What did Indian Idol’s first winner do with prize money? Here is the story

Singer Abhijeet Sawant, who became the first winner of Indian Idol, has revealed that having earned money and fame, he still felt a void.

When you are on top of the world, famous because of your work and you have all the money in the world, what more would you want? Singer Abhijeet Sawant, who became the first winner of Indian Idol, has revealed that having earned money and fame, he still felt a void.

In a conversation with author Chetan Bhagat, Abhijeet revealed that as he lived out of a suitcase, flying to shows almost every day, sleeping in his car at his home just to get a feel of home, he felt he was not creatively satisfied.

Talking about the money he earned and how he invested, the singer said, “I invested well. It was around the time of the 2008 recession, so a lot of the money we’d saved here and there we were realigning. It was a cluster at that point, but I did save well. I bought a house as well, so it was okay. But I was working for money, and I still believe that was one of my biggest regrets.”

When asked what he meant, he said, “Maybe it’s my thinking, but when you’re running behind money, you have to compromise many things with your talent, your music, your knowledge. I realised that after 35-37, I don’t want to keep saying, ‘What to do, you have to compromise’.”

Abhijeet also said that early on in his life, he was influenced by songs that were based on life. And he never felt tired practising long hours of music. “When you start learning music, when you have a passion for it, you don’t feel like it is a job or get tired. If you have a talent, howsoever good that might be, you will need to take training for it and know how to present it in the best manner.”

He also spoke about having suicidal thoughts at one point of life when he was not successful in his career or studies. But then, he said, that was just one decision that could change life. Recalling his tough times, he said today those who didn’t do well back then in studies are doing well in life now, with jobs and settled abroad.

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Coming from a middle-class background, he said he learnt a lot from the experience of participating in and winning the Indian Idol. From the culture of showing off – he bought a Rolex watch that wouldn’t fit his wrist – to how people treat you before and after you achieve success.

He said for a long time, a lot of things did not sink in after he won the Indian Idol and he did shows and albums. “I could see it. There were a lot of things that were happening around me. But it didn’t hit me. For a long time, I didn’t understand what was happening in my life. I was just running. Everyone was happy.”

The singer had stoked controversy earlier this year when he criticised Indian Idol for favouring fake drama and love stories over actual singing talent.

“If you look at the regional reality shows, then the audience will hardly know about the background of the contestants. Their focus is only on singing, but in Hindi reality shows, the tragic and sad stories of contestants are redeemed. The focus is only on that,” he had told Aaj Tak.