He grew up in a musically inclined family and that drove this zealous singer towards becoming a full-time musician. Singer and actor Siddharth Menon is a versatile artiste – not only is he the co-founder of the popular band Thaikkudam Bridge, but he’s also a playback singer who has crooned Malayalam film songs like Thumbi Penne, Theruvukal and Varikallo for different flicks. As a performer, he entertains music lovers when he sets the stage on fire as Sid Menon Live and also, as a part of KK Live, the band that used to perform with the late legendary singer KK. When it comes to acting, his filmography includes movies like Rockstar, Koole and Kolaambi and web-series like Instagramam. In a freewheeling chat with Provoke, the multi-talented Siddharth opens up about his journey as a singer, his acting career and more…

How did your tryst with singing happen?
The love for music has always run in my family. My father and mother used to sing, but not professionally. My father’s older brother is a Carnatic teacher and his younger brother sings for our band Thaikkuddam Bridge. My sister writes songs for the band and my cousin Govind Vasanth is a singer too. My own brother, who lives in London has a band there. As a kid, I would listen to a lot of music and even perform in temples in Kerala. In fact, the first time I sang a Malayalam song was at the ISKCON temple in Mumbai and I ended up winning a prize. I started singing when I was in the first standard and sang in school competitions and youth festivals.

When did you take up music professionally?
I took part in a reality show called X factor that was aired on Sony TV. Three of my friends along with me formed a band called Nirmitee and we performed on the show. We got eliminated just before the finals. The show was judged by Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir, Sonu Nigam sir and Shreya Ghoshal. SLB sir was our mentor and he was kind enough to give us a song in his film My Friend Pinto – so that was my first professional project. Post that, I shifted to Chennai where my cousin was working as a programmer for some famous artistes. I wanted to become a singer and we made demos where we performed an AR Rahman medley, which we decided to shoot on our handycam. At the same time, Kappa TV’s management reached out to us and asked us to do 12 songs. Since my voice alone in all songs would get repetitive, I decided to call my musician friends from Mumbai, Chennai etc and then we performed for the show Music Mojo. That’s how Thaikkudam Bridge happened.

How was the band Thaikkudam Bridge formed?
When we called different artistes to perform for Music Mojo with us, we had no intention of forming a band. But post that, we became so big that I started getting calls asking us to perform at various shows. Then we decided to do one show to see how it goes. That one show turned around everything for us as we realised how big we were and how much people loved us. The story behind our band name is interesting – when Piyush and the others were coming to Kerala, it was their first time there. The only landmark they knew was the Thaikkudam Bridge. After we were done shooting, we were asked for the name of the band ad we had no name in mind. That’s when Piyush insisted that we use the name Thaikkudam Bridge and that’s how it was named. We’re a multi-genre band, have done originals as well as covers. Our two original albums are Namah and Navarasam.

I’m no longer part of the band but my brother, uncle and sister are still actively part of it. Right now, I’m focusing on Sid Menon Live, where I perform individually as well as on my acting career.

You have been performing independently as well as with KK’s band. Tell us more about it.
It’s been more than five years since I started performing independently as Sid Menon Live. I do all kinds of shows and explore different genres and collaborate with various artistes. I’m having a lot of fun with it. As for performing with KK sir’s band KK Live, there’s a story behind it. Once, I opened for Farhan Akhtar in Trivandrum. That’s when his sound engineer, who was also the engineer for KK saw me and mentioned that they wanted to take his legacy forward and that his original band was looking for a singer. He called me and asked me to meet and everything fell into place. I now perform with his original band which has played with him for more than 25 years. I’ve done 5 shows with them so far and everyone has loved it. It’s such a strange connection because KK sir is also from Thrissur like me, is a Malayali and both of us speak Hindi. Although I never got to perform with him, I did meet him many years ago. He was supposed to perform in in Kerala and I was on my way to Bombay. On the way to the airport, I got a call from my manager who said that KK sir wasn’t feeling well and they needed someone to perform instead of him. So, I performed with a three-piece band that day. Post that, he met me and joked and said ‘Thanks for saving me today’ and told me that he loved my voice. I took a picture with him which I still greatly cherish.

How did acting happen and what’s happening on that front?
Acting was never my passion, but I used to get a lot of film offers. My very first film was Rockstar. I was approached by VK Prakash, a big Malayalam director who saw me at one of my shows in Bengaluru. He asked me if I was interested in playing the lead role and that was such a huge deal for me. I decided to give it a try and when I did it, I really liked the process of filmmaking. There were a lot of elements that came together and music was just a part of it. I enjoyed the team work involved in it. Previously, I had no idea about how a film is made. As for my future projects, I’m doing two Telugu films. I’ve also done a web-series and I’m doing two more including a series called Network. I’ve also done a Malayalam film called Oru Perumkaliyattam. As for my dream filmmaker, it has to be Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir. He knows me as a singer and I’m not aware if he knows that I’m acting now, but it would be great to act in his film!

What are your plans for your gigs in the future?
We have planned a lot for the future. I’m new to singing in KK sir’s band and we have a couple of originals that we want to showcase. These are songs composed by KK sir and I feel that singing them is a huge responsibility. I hope I can do justice to it. I have a lot of people who have inspired me musically – from AR Rahman to my brother Govind to my dad, uncle and Sonu Nigam. Each person has inspired me during different stages in my life.

There was a huge controversy around the time Kantara released as the song Varaha Roopam was said to be copied from your band’s song Navarasam.

What’s your take on plagiarism?
There’s no set rule as such in the music industry when it comes to copying or being inspired by songs. I feel like there should be rules laid down if not everyone will start copying and call it ‘inspiration’. To be honest, I’m not part of the band anymore so I don’t know what’s happening with the legal proceedings and other details. But when I saw Kantara, I called my friend Anish and told him happily that our Navarasam music had been used in the film. Earlier, our music was used in Surya’s Soorarai Potru and we were given proper credits, but later I realised that the band never got credits for Kantaara.

It’s the month of love. Your wife Tanvi Palav is an artiste too. Tell us a little about your partnership.
My wife Tanvi is a Kathak dancer, who’s been training since the age of 3. She’s also an actress. We both love what we’re doing and take a lot of inspiration from each other. I really hope I can be of some help to her in her endeavours at some point. As for acting, I hope someone comes up with something where both of us can act together!

Favourite Musician: Govind Vasanth
Favourite Actor: Mohanlal
Favourite Band: Metallica
Favourite Song: Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin
Favourite Venue to perform: An amphitheatre in Muscat