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Wednesday, June 07, 2006
One of the most experienced singers on the Indian music scene today, he had his latest music album released just last month. What Mukesh was to Raj Kapoor, he is to Shahrukh Khan. We spoke to veteran singer Abhijeet; about his life, highs, sorrows, inspirations and much more.
Tell us something about your latest album.
The album is called Lamhe. A lamha refers to the happy and sad moments of life. Nothing lasts forever. Look at celebrities. Nobody is a celebrity forever. But they are remembered for their work. It can be anyone's story. It's a message from the artist fraternity to the audience.
You have worked on film albums as well as private albums. What do you think is the difference?
For me, no work is easy. I am dedicated to everything I do. You have to take pains to do good work. For a film song, I know that it's the music director's composition. When I'm making a song, my past work becomes the biggest competition for me. I don't want people to say that my film songs are better than the album songs. I have to work accordingly. I have to be very careful about the quality.
Tell us about your experience in Bollywood.
I think musicians belong to the music industry, rather than Bollywood. We hardly meet the stars. Nowadays, even the producer and director hardly come for recordings. It's just the music directors and singers. So I have very little experience of Bollywood. We work in a very different atmosphere. I think everybody is a victim of groupism. But I think I have made my own position. Not that there is a number game. Nobody can take my position.
Do you think that you have had to struggle to reach your current position? Or did things come to you easily?
If I say that I am not struggling today, I would be wrong. I think everyone struggles. At every stage, the struggle is different. When I first started off, it was a struggle for basics like a roof over my head and food. I had come from out of Mumbai. And life in Mumbai for a newcomer is tough. I was struggling to establish myself. Now my struggle is against the corruption in music. I'm not referring to politics but the quality of music. When my album Tere Bina, came out three years ago, the market was flooded with remixes. Some singers had roped in big actors for their albums. My product was simple with sincere music. Even today I am struggling against shor sharaba. In so many songs today, you will find only noise. There is no real singing. I struggle for people who truly like good music. It's my duty to give soothing and melodious music.
Are you against remixes and actors acting in music videos?
Remixes are not music. It happens everywhere. Honest people have to struggle more than dishonest people. Maybe only 10% of the people have created a big market for this kind of music. I only go according to the listener and not according to the market. My music should be forever.
Did you always want to become a singer?
But was there any family opposition?
They had concerns about the security of a singer. When one is not established, the future is very insecure. At that time, the struggle was different. There were no reality shows and judges to make a singer. I was discovered by R.D.Burman. I think it's a big achievement to sing for R.D.Burman. He was a musical encyclopedia. I was selected by him. If he was a judge in today's times, I don't think he would have chosen anyone! My struggle is always for the best. I must get the best songs and music.
Do you remember your first song?
Of course I do. It was my first break. You think Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan don't remember their breaks? I sang for Dev Anand's son, Sunil Anand.
Your voice has a very cooling effect. Do you have to make a special effort to get that effect?
For me, it's easy. I sing from my heart. It's not like I try very hard. I express emotions through my songs. The most important thing for me is my voice quality.
Do you think a singer's voice is God's gift or is it hard work?
A singer is always a born singer. You can learn music but not singing. A besura is always a besura! Kauva kabhi koyal nahin ban sakta! God has given some people a good voice. You have to be a born singer.
Is it true that you wanted to become a chartered accountant?
I did that while doing my B.Com. I cleared my intermediate papers as well. But once I came to Mumbai, I got so busy in my struggle. I was meeting ten music directors everyday. So I didn't get time to complete my studies.
Do you believe in daily riyaz?
I think you have to practice when you are not working. I do riyaz when I am free. Work is also riyaz. I also have to give rest to my throat to maintain the quality of my voice.
Who is your favorite from among the old time singers?
My all time favorite is Kishore Kumar. At the same time, my other favorites are Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle.
Even Ravindra Jain helped you a lot in your initial days. Tell us something about him.
I learnt a lot of technicalities from him. He is a classical oriented music director. His compositions are very tough. If you learn those songs, it will become the perfect riyaz. I worked with him for two years as an assistant. He didn't give me a break. I worked with him on Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Nadiya Ke Paar. I learnt so much from him that my first break became easy. I was trained under Ravindra Jain. And of course, R.D.Burman gave me my first break which was my biggest achievement.
Kishore Kumar, R.D. Burman, S.D. Burman, Kumar Sanu, Hemant Kumar, Shaan - all are Bengalis. What is it about Bengalis that makes them rule the singing and music scene?
You have left out a lot of Bengalis! You missed out Bappi Lahiri, Babul Supriyo and Shreya Ghoshal! There are also a lot of Bengali musicians. Bengali means music! God has given 90% of the Bengalis, sur. I'm not saying that all are good. But most of them sing.
You have immortalized some of the most popular Shah Rukh Khan numbers. Your voice suits him to the T. Do you think music directors specially consider you while making songs for Shah Rukh?
I don't think so. I am mostly approached by Jatin Lalit and Anu Malik. It's not like people make a conscious effort to make me sing for Shah Rukh Khan. I have somehow always got the best. There is a different between the most popular and the best.
I have somehow always got the best. There is a different between the most popular and the best. Who do you prefer from the current lot of music directors?
I think they are brilliant. The current lot can make music as well as sound. I think A.R.Rahman started experimenting with sound. His music was always sound oriented. He started the trend and people followed.
Name five of your favorite songs from among your vast repertoire.
They would be Chand Tare and Main Koi Aisa Geet from Yes Boss, Tum Dil Ki Dhadkan from Dhadkan, and Suno Na and Tauba from Chalte Chalte. I also like Yaad Piya Ki from my album Lamhe.
Any more private albums in the offing?
Right now, there is Lamhe. I don't make albums after albums. One album has to run after years and years. Tere Bina did well for three years. They are timeless. I don't make it like hot cakes that just sell and get over. Like all of Jagjit Singh's albums are evergreen! I think Tere Bina will always sell. Lamhe will also always sell. I don't work keeping current trends in mind. Even today, radio stations play Chalte Chalte and Yes Boss.
Do you compose music?
My albums are always my own compositions. Aashiqui wasn't my music but Tere Bina was.
Which female singer's voice do you think goes best with you for a duet?
It depends on the song. Maybe some songs don't suit me but someone else.
Is there someone from the current lot of music directors who you haven't worked with and would like to work with?
I have worked with everyone but not to a major extent.