Amusing as it may sound, having a moniker like ‘Michael Jackson of Sri Lanka’ helps. Especially when you are a celebrity in your home country and are looking to create a dent in a noisy country like India, a headline-worthy label like that can get phones ringing, if not open doors.
Yet, Dushyanth Weeraman, a pop star with quite the following in Sri Lanka, doesn’t like to harp too much on it. In fact, talking to DNA over phone, he doesn’t mince words when he clarifies, “I am not an impersonator of Michael Jackson and I find it unfair when people think that I am only copying everything that’s he’s done.
People even think my hair looks like him! “Yet, he will readily agree that doing an ‘MJ’ on stage helps him connect with the audience.
Recalling the early days, Dushyanth says, “At the point when I was starting my career, MJ was very unpopular in the media. Still, despite that, every time I would perform his song on stage, I would get a good response from the audiences and that’s because they would relate to the song.”
While that got him the initial start, it was winning a Sri Lankan reality show, Sirasa Dancing Stars — quite similar to Dancing with the Stars, he explains — that pushed his career in the entertainment industry to the fore. “That competition really brought out the dancer in me,” he admits.
It is quite obvious that this constant comparison or allusion as an MJ-lookalike hurts because he once again states, thankfully without any bitterness, “Yes, I have been influenced by the popstar. Performing like Michael Jackson helped me but not in terms of making me popular.
It helped me in realising and strengthening my own belief in my talent. That said, I have created my own identity. I am Dushyanth Weeraman.”
Moving on, Dushyanth chooses to focus on the reason that’s brought him to Mumbai. “This is my second time in the city,” he informs, recalling that his last trip to the city was to “record a song for Aadesh Shrivastava which had him sharing the mike with Sonu Nigam.”
Called Just the Fact, the single, in the singer’s own words has been getting the hits online. Revealing that he is in the city now to promote the song, he recalls how it all came to pass. “I was introduced to Aadesh in Los Angeles last year who, in turn, introduced me to Sonu. Yet, while Aadesh believed in me, it took some time to convince Sonu to get on to the project.”
As the video has got some 16,000 views since it released a couple of weeks back, Dushyanth gushes, “This is a great start for me. Getting an opportunity to work with these talented guys in itself is great.”
Prod him if collaborations are the best way for a musician to reach more people and Dushyanth measuredly states, “It is a good way forward, not necessarily the best way. I am established in Sri Lanka but to get into India, collaborating with Sonu Nigam makes sense because it helps me reach out to the four million plus fans he has.”
Quite the tech-savvy singer, as Googling his name will prove, another one of Dushyanth’s claim to fame is that he opened for T-Pain in California in 2011. He reminisces how “meeting a fellow Sri Lankan during his first concert in the US led to this opportunity that has made him, as his Reverbnation profile chooses to describe it — the first Sri Lankan artiste to open the stage for the multi-platinum, two time Grammy award winning Hip Hop Artiste T-PAIN.
With hit singles, a considerable fan following and interesting projects looming ahead, Dushyanth, it can be said, is quite the success story. The singer is quick to attribute his success to his brother, Santhush Weeraman, another equally successful hip-hop artiste.
“I always wanted to be on stage and it was my brother who got me to believe that I could be a singer, a star. He, in fact, showed the entire Sri Lankan youth that they could make a career in music.”
Even as he gets effusive about having a mentor at home, Dushyanth concludes the interview by unabashedly confessing, “I am living the dream.” And we’ll do a moonwalk to that.