Do you see films?
I see very few films. Music itself has undergone a lot of change. There was a time when music directors and singers were as popular as the hero and heroines. Musicians would decide if they should take Lata or Asha for a song. Or decide between (Mohd) Rafisaab, Kishore Kumar or Mukesh… Nothing like that happens now. Now one film will have six voices — one song by Sonu (Nigam), one by someone else…
I also hear that a film has five music directors today.Producers (barring Yash Chopra) too don’t pay much attention to music. You rarely get to hear good music. Earlier even if a film flopped the music was successful. And to add to it, the internet too is forcing music companies to take a backseat.
Any song that you liked recently?
One song that I really liked was Main Hoon Naa’s title track… Besides, even the voices have changed. Hamare time pe joh awaazein thi, matlab ladki ki awaaz ladki ki hi lagti thi (laughs)… Sorry!
Who’s your favourite from among the current lot of Bollywood singers?
Sunidhi (Chauhan) sings well but she has a different voice — if she tries to sing a lori, it’ll not work. Then there’s Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan (who’s not a new artist), Alka (Yagnik), who I believe does not sing anymore and Shaan. But what we are today is also because of our music directors.
They — Ghulam Haider, Sachin Dev Burman the, RD Burman, Madan Mohan,Jaidev, Ravi Shankar — worked hard on us. They were well-versed in classical music, which is very important. Like if you want to write, you need to know how to read. It’s the same with classical music, you should be able to understand your raags.
Did you ever have an argument with a music director?
Never, we sang the way we were told to. At times I’d try a taan or alaap and they would appreciate it. Only Rafisaab would object to it at times. Y’see, I would decide that I’ll try out a certain note today and not inform Rafisaab about it. Aur jaha unhone kaha yahan take karte hai, main ekdum gaa deti thi. Rafisaab would sulk sayingthat if you had told me, I too would’ve sung it that way.Mujhe mazaa aata tha unko zara chedne mein…
A song that is closest to your heart…
The song closest to my heart is ‘Aayega aanewala’ fromMahal. No, there’s no personal story to it, bas achha lagta hai.But I remember how it was recorded. Director Kamal (Amrohi) had an indepth knowledge in music and shayari. He told me that he wanted the voice to sound like it was coming from afar.
Since those days we had no such recording machine to create the effect, I had to walk and sing the opening lines till I reached the mike. Once I reached the mike, I would begin the song from Aayega aanewala…I did this routine 10 – 15 times, which is also the reason I remember the song very well (laughs).
I remember Nargis Dutt’s mother was in the studio too, when I recorded the song that day. She was a good singer herself. She called out to me when I finished recording the song, and asked me my name. When I told her that my name was Lata Mangeshkar, she said, ‘Accha, so you are a Marathan! Amazing, you pronounced ‘baghair’ very well.’ (laughs) She was referring to the line – ‘deepak baghair’ in the song.
A lot of the old songs especially RD Burman’s are being remixed, the makers say that they are reviving the old songs…
Woh kya phir se laayenge? Woh galat faimi mein hain. What has already been created and appreciated by people should not be tampered with. I don’t like remixes. If you have to take an old song, then sing it the way it’s been sung. Puraani cheez laakar aap bana nahi rahe hai, bigaad rahe hai.Where’s the talent in that?
Your sister Asha Bhosale has done a lot of international collaborations.Aren’t you interested in doing something similar?
I’m not aware of whom she’s sung with, but I have no interest to do something like that.
Do you listen to all her songs?
Asha’s? Yes, every song that she sings. But I feel that if one has to collaborate with another artiste then it should be with someone really big, not with little known artistes.
Do you listen to international artistes?
Yes, I am fond of Nat King Cole. I started listening to his music in the 50’s. I have all his records. I even toyed with the idea to do a recording of his songs, but was advised against it. I liked the Beatles too!
Do you think that musical reality shows provide a platformformusic talents?
The only way the music show talents will benefit from what’s happening on TV recently, is that they can have their own stage shows. You remember what happened to Abhijeet Sawant? They gave him a car, but he never sang in films. He gained a lot from stage shows though. Yeh platform jo hai… ab kya hua hai ki platform tod ke raste bade ho gaye hain (laughs). Most of our artistes — Sonu, Shreya, Sunidhi — today are doing a lot of stage-shows too, there’s a lot of money in it.
What do you think of the movement led by Anna Hazare?
I don’t comment on politics ever, and I am also least interested in it. But I don’t see anything wrong in what Anna Hazare is doing.
You also tweet regularly…
Yes, my brother’s son writes it for me. Nowadays, I also include English words in it and I take my sister’s daughter’s help for that.