Meet the auditor who became the voice of Vijay for Nee Neeli... in Dear Comrade

It was a typical day at the office for chartered accountant (CA) Gowtham Bharadwaj. He had his head buried in balance sheets when his cell phone started buzzing relentlessly. When he checked it, he couldn’t believe that his song Nee Neeli Kannullona from Vijay Deverakonda’s upcoming film Dear Comrade has become an instant chartbuster and he, an overnight sensation in the Telugu film industry. "It was surreal. Everybody was raving about the song and it was trending at No.1 spot on video-sharing websites. The response has been overwhelming,” he gushes. But how did a chartered accountant end up crooning for a Tollywood movie? “Well, music has been my passion since childhood and I took lessons in Carnatic music as a child. Later, apart from working as a CA, I used to perform regularly with my band Staccato. That way, I always stayed connected to music,” says the Rajahmundry boy. While Gowtham has sung for a few Tamil films earlier, he admits that the journey hasn’t been all rosy for him. “A lot of times composers would bring me on board to record a song, but my voice would never make the final cut. The same song will appear with someone else’s voice. This happened to me several times,” he says. Incidentally, a similar thing happened with Justin Prabhakaran, the composer for Dear Comrade. “I had recorded a song for Justin but someone else’s voice was used finally. They felt that my voice didn’t quite suit the visuals of the song. Later, Justin apologised to me and promised to get back to me with a song that would suit my voice. And he kept his promise,” shares Gowtham, beaming. The 32-year-old singer says he couldn’t have chosen a better song to make his Tollywood debut. “I’m a Telugu boy but all my earlier songs have been in Tamil. It felt great to sing in my mother tongue for a change. I’ve also dubbed for the same song in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. To sing for Vijay Deverakonda is amazing. His partnership with Sid Sriram has been legendary (with songs like Inkem Inkem Kavaale and Maate Vinnadugaa) and I hope we can become a hit pair too,” says Gowtham. Now that he’s had a dream debut in Tollywood, will he quit his job as a chartered accountant? “Not at all,” says Gowtham. “I’m equally passionate about both music and accounting. I think it brings a nice balance to my life. I’m currently working as a financial consultant for a firm and thankfully, the company has been extremely supportive. In fact, they are proud of my musical career. I’ll continue to do both and will be ‘an auditor with a voice’,” he says, signing off.

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