BY JON CRONIN
Richmond Hill native Ben Parag recently became a household name after taking part in an Indian talent show and will now perform at the York College Performing Arts Center in Jamaica on Nov. 11.
Parag was born to Guyanese immigrant parents in the United States. Recently, he flew to India to compete on the talent show Dil Hai Hindustani, a TV show that is similar to American Idol.
His romantic ballads and presence reportedly impressed judges, but he did not win the top prize on the show. However, his popularity and talent is propelling him to stardom as he is now forging ahead with a career singing in Bollywood movies. He was the first American to compete on the show and finished in the top six.
Last spring, Parag left his native New York for India to compete on the Indian show at the age of 19. Parag’s was trained under the tutelage of Kinnar and Payal Seen and the two traveled with him to India to compete in the talent show. His hopes were to receive enough attention to launch a music career.
When speaking to the PRESS of Southeast Queens in April, Parag said that he felt as if destiny was making him gravitate toward India. He said that his experience in the land of his grandparents gave him confidence to follow wherever his talent might take him.
Parag moved to Bombay in May to pursue a full-time career in Bollywood. He planned to be a Bollywood playback singer—the voice to which Bollywood actors lip sync in the movies.
Parag hails from a musical family—his parents, Kumar and Savi, were always singing around the house as he was growing up. While some children play sports or take part other activities, Parag would return home from his high school, the Hillside Arts and Letters Academy, and sing. Although singing started as a hobby, it became more serious for Parag when his mother connected him with a guru, Shri Kinnar Seen, who taught him the techniques of singing Indian music.
Parag’s great grandparents left India for Guyana, which is located in South America, in the late 19th century. His family has maintained strong religious and cultural ties to India ever since. Parag is a practicing Hindu and he has been studying Hindi.
Parag will perform at York on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $20 to $40.
Fakhrul Razi, a co-contestant on Dil Hai Hindustani, will also perform during the concert. For tickets, contact Dave Thakoordeen at (347) 291-3807 or Shivani Persaud at (929) 327-2691.