You keep coming to India.
I really enjoy working with talented musicians like Aadesh (Srivastava). I don't come to India just for concerts and performances. I've lots of friends here. People like you love me immensely in India. So nowadays I come more often to meet my dear friends than for shows. I've done quite a number of charity shows in India recently. Koi bhi ho kissi ki musibat apni hi hoti hai.
Is friendship between India and Pakistan feasible?
Why not? Both countries want it. On a cultural level, we've been trying to bring the two countries together for a long time. I think the relations between the two countries must improve. Peaceful relations between neighbors comes above everything else. I'm glad to see we're slowly working towards that goal. Indian artistes are loved in Pakistan as much as Pakistani artistes in this country. Pyar-mohabbat to badhni chahiye. Yeh ghatne wali cheez nahin hai.
What did you think of Yash Chopra's Indo-Pak romance Veer-Zaara?
Usne bahut achi baat kahi hai. Peace and love between the two countries is imperative. Even I've been trying to build a bridge between the two countries in my own way, through my music. I first came to India in 1980. And I never stopped coming since then. I must have been in India a hundred times. I feel very comfortable over here.
Where do you think the traditional Ghazal fits in the contemporary music scene?
Today's music is far removed the Ghazal. Ghazal ek apna muqaam rakhti hai...It's not just a genre... It's a thought, an attitude and a way of life. When a Ghazal is featured in a film it acquires an exceptional longevity...my Ghazal chupke chupke raat bhar in Nikaah is remembered to this day. I've sung many Ghazals in films. They're all loved to this day.
Do you still feel satisfied singing Ghazals?
My love for my work remains undiminished. I never gave up singing in the style and mood that I had adopted from the start. That's what keeps my love for my art alive. One should love and respect one's own work. I never sing at a venue where my musicians and I aren't comfortable.
What do you do with rowdy members of the audience?
Aapki dua se unko meri baat maan-ni padti hai tabhi main gaata hoon...I prefer live performances to studio recordings. I like to relate to my audience directly.
Do you prefer singing your own compositions?
Ninety five percent of my songs are self-composed. But if others compose something good, I'm happy singing it. But yes, I've become used to singing my own songs.
Tell me what you think about the musicians in Mumbai.
I remember recording an album Meraj-e-Ghazal with Asha Bhosleji in the 1980s. During that recording I met nearly everyone from the music industry. I've continued my association with Mumbai's music industry, including an album of Punjabi songs with Kavita Krishnamurthy. I might be working with Lataji soon. She's a one-woman authority on Sur and music. I'm her big fan. Bade hi sureeli artiste, Didi hain hamari, bahut pyar karti hain mujhe.
What is your next project?
This visit to India is for some Australian friends in Pune. Tomorrow I leave for Pakistan. India is an ideal place for good songs and singing. Every visit of mine is a pleasure. I sing in every part of the world. Lekin Pakistan aur Hindustan mein doosra hi mazaa aata hai