We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again - there must be something special in Canada’s waters which has attributed to the rise of young Indo-Candians in the creative arts field, over the last few years. Or maybe it’s sheer diligence, drive and determination to carve a path in the arts, which was otherwise seen as impossible by our parent’s generation.
Our featured artist for this month is no stranger to those three traits, and has a big appetite for food and ambition. A singer, actor and aspiring cook who hails from Montreal - it’s none other than Rup Magon, the co-lead singer of JoSH fame.
Tell us about Rup Magon
I’m the outcast in the room; the one that questions what no one usually else cares to answer, a realistic dreamer constantly trying to bend the straight lines.
What were you doing before you started singing professionally?
I was dreaming about being a professional singer while rocking software sales. I actually loved sales, I still do.
How did your background in Kirtan help prepare you for your band JoSH?
Irrespective of the venue, singing in front of thousands of people takes guts. Thanks to doing Kirtan in Sangat, being in front of large crowds wasn’t new to me. Musically it helped understand different melodies, harmonies, raags, and of course, rhythm. Philosophically, reading Gurbani helped me understand the power of thought vs the lure of rituals.
How did ‘JoSH’ come about?
Initially, JoSH was a live 5 piece band that sang Indian and Pakistani cover songs. My brother Rik and I were the rhythms section and back vocals of the band. After a few years of jamming and having fun, Qurram (Q) arrived to Montreal from Karachi and we were ecstatic to have an awesome musician among. Back in the late 90s, having a Desi musician in French Montreal was a gift. After a few years, Q and I were the only ones who were serious enough to pursue this dream of releasing our original music to the world. Once we started, we never looked back.
The world knows you as one half of the band 'JoSH’; how did you venture down the path of acting?
We’ve been fortunate now to have over 20 music videos. This helped make me very comfortable in front of the camera. I also used to do a little friendly improv and theater in high school. I was cast in my first feature film 5 years ago. A film called Breakaway (Speedy Singhs) starring Vinay Virmani, Russel Peters, and Akshay Kumar. I played one of the Speedy Singhs. I felt very comfortable and loved every second of being on set. It was new for me. A new venture, something I’d have to start from scratch. Starting from scratch is not new to me, and I’m not afraid of it. Ever since, I’ve been fortunate to work on a few more amazing projects.
You have acted in quite a few films now and we will soon see you grace the silver screen for ‘The Black Prince’. How did you get involved in this project?
I initially contacted the writer and director of “The Black Prince”, Kavi Raz. He hinted that he may see me as the 2nd lead of the biopic drama, a character named Arur Singh, who was Maharaj Duleep Singhs confidant or right-hand man. After a few months, and auditioning in L.A and in London, I finally got the role. Working with Kavi, Satinder Sartaj, Shabana Azmi, Jasjeet Singh, and the rest of the cast and crew was an experience I’ll never forget.
Have you had any acting experience prior to your first film, and if not, why did you decide to give acting a go?
As I said earlier, being in front of the camera for music videos in itself prepared me for the big screen. Although music videos and acting with dialogue are quite different, it still gave me a platform to start from. I find the idea of playing a character, or transforming yourself, your thoughts and your ways into someone else, completely fascinating! I’m glad I’ve made this transition.
Why the transition from a musician to a full-fledged actor?
I’ll never leave my music. JoSH is something that will always be there. We continue to perform to audiences around the world. The acting was something I need to try creatively. I’m the type of person that likes to take challenges and see them succeed. The truth is that more than an actor or a singer, I sometimes wish I was a chef!
What challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis in your field of work?
As a sardar, its always difficult to dodge the type-cast barrel that we are automatically thrown into. To top that off, most directors consider musicians terrible actors. The truth is, most actors ARE bad actors. I’d like to say I’m not one of them. I made a point to act in a French ShortFilm called “Bonjour JI” which showcased a completely different side of me as an actor. Everyone faces their own challenges. Overcoming them in a creative and charming way is what I like to pride myself in. Nothing is too difficult to overcome. Musically, its hard to remain yourself and to make the music you once did just for the sake of making music. The chase for the next hit gets in the way!
How do you like to unwind after a long day at the studio/on tour/on-Set/performing?
I love to play cook, golf, play with my babies, and argue with everyone about religion and education!
What’s your motto?
See the box, wink at the box, and stay F out of the box.
In your experience, what are the highs and lows in your field of work?
Low - getting rejected constantly. Even after all this success, the competition is always fierce and the jobs are scarce. Its hard to stay positive and to remain successful. The “High” however, is the feeling you get when you see yourself on screen after all that hard work. Or being on stage in front of fans and realizing how friggin’ amazing your job is. Indescribable!
What advice would you give to those who also want to sing/act full-time, but perhaps feel they don’t have the support of their family? (since this, like so many other artistic paths, apparently doesn’t offer financial stability).
I didn’t have the support of my family at first, so I totally understand it. Most artists don’t get the support from their families. Its important to understand that there is nothing secure about being an artist. If you’re looking for security like a check every 2 weeks, or a schedule, or a structured life, then you’re in the wrong field. The other important thing is your intention. Are you embarking on this journey for fame? for money? Because if you are, there are plenty of easier ways of becoming popular and making money. Why would you want to take the artist route, its probably the most difficult way. If you’re in it for the love of the art, and truly enjoy it irrespective of the outcome, then you’re doing the right thing. You’ll face all kinds of rejection, lows, closed doors, keep at it, they will all open up, one by one.
What’s been your greatest struggle, and how do you generally overcome negative emotions?
I’ve struggled with many many mannnnnny things to name a few. ha! One that comes to mind has been my appearance. Being one of the first sikhs in a french school wasn’t always the easy. Although I had wonderful teachers and friends, there was always an insecurity of looking different. I overcame it by understanding that looking different or unique was actually better than looking like the rest. It was something that Qurram made me realize one day after one of our marathon conversations. He was right.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from other artists, my mother Juss Kaur, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michael Jackson (to name a few). I also get inspired from nature, travel, music, movies, and food. Did i mention food?
What can we expect from Rup in the future?
I think after acting, I will pursue my love for food, did I mention food? Whether its a cookbook (which is in the process of being written), a food product, or even a restaurant, I will certainly give my love for food a go!
Picture source: Rup Magon