Musician Tappoo makes it big

EVEN as a child, Sumeet Tappoo had made an impression locally.

The 12-year-old would sing with his father Mahendra Tappoo and the father-son duo became a household name in Fiji.

That was just the spark young Sumeet needed — now some 26 years later, he is perhaps one of the very few local singers who have made an impression on the world stage.

He has done more than 500 shows and does regular shows in India, US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. He has sung in Bollywood and his last album Destiny was launched by Amitabh Bachchan.

But the journey so far has not been easy and according to him this is not the end.

“It was always a dream to make it in the music industry and become a professional singer. We are very removed from India in that sense,” Sumeet said.

“The world is very small today. The internet but geographically we are still very far from there. To make a career in an industry which has a million singers is tough. There was a dream to do that.

“It is materialising. There has been a lot of hard work, struggles and sacrifices on everyone’s part. On my part and also my family because it is a very tough industry, you cannot just walk in.

“If you want to open up a business, you can find a piece of land, hire an accountant, hire some people and you can start off. I am not saying to build a shopping mall overnight, you can start off with a small store.

“And then you can expand slowly to something bigger.

“In our industry, you can work as hard as you want but if that luck is not with you, the break is not with you, then you will not get anywhere.

“I have been very fortunate. For the first three to four years I just focused on traditional music but of late I have been singing a lot of Bollywood film songs.

“The focus of my career was to make it in the devotional songs genre.

“I have realised after the three to four years of journey into Mumbai, a true singer is when he or she is able to be versatile and sing everything.

“Versatility is very important. I looked at two artistes who I consider to be inspirations, A Hari Haran and Sonu Nigam, and I said what made them different is that they are so versatile and can sing from Bollywood to bhajans with the same level of mastery and that’s what makes them different.

“I then changed my direction and as a profession started singing everything. That’s the direction for me now.”

Sumeet loves Fiji and whenever he has had the chance he has promoted his homeland.

He said his upbringing in Fiji had prepared him well for the struggles in life.

He is somebody who refuses to back off any challenge.

“I am very passionate and despite the many challenges, sometimes, some days you think, it is too tough and I should do something else and then an hour later pick myself up and say that this is what I really want and I go forward. You also need to have an inner belief that you can do this,” he said.

Last month, Sumeet partnered with Indian actor Arun Govil to present two free shows depicting the Ramayan and its universally applicable teachings. The shows one in Suva and one in Nadi were packed to the brim and both were free.

Sumeet said he did not realise that there would be so many people coming.

He said he was informed by the logistics staff that there had been demand for 50,000 tickets.

“There was a TV show Ramayan based on the Hindu epic which was produced in the 80s and I have an eight-year-old daughter who was watching it one night.

“I thought she would watch 10 minutes of it and switch it off, she continued on for the three hours and it is 18 DVDs, she continued watching it on a regular basis and that got me thinking that if an eight-year-old child is watching something so spiritual, I am sure that there is a demand for it and a need for it as well.

“I started reflecting on it, and I had met Arunji in Mumbai couple of years ago. So I met him and I started conceptualising a show that features the two of us. He is idolised all over the world for playing the character of Ram. And I thought, he could speak about the Ramayan and I could sing about it.

“If you switch on the television news, it’s all negative, it’s negative news on the radio as well, newspapers also. News around the world is mostly about things which are going wrong and I feel a little spirituality brings good news. As far as I am concerned there is only one God, just different names and forms.”

Sumeet spent some time with family after the show but has since returned to India where he still aims to strive and make it even bigger.

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