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Pitching it right May 31, 2008

Posted by lollywoodhungama in Uncategorized.
Mahendra Kapoor has just been conferred the Phalke Samman by the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy. Though he has not recorded a Hindi film song since Dillagi (1999) he is as vocally fit as ever, and has just sung for a Pakistani film and a Sufi albumSo many awards and honours, including the Padma Shri, have been conferred on you. How do you look at the latest Phalke honour?
Every trophy and award is important, special and very happily accepted. The Phalke recognition is even more precious because it is a recognition and endorsement from one’s own family – the industry members.

B.R.Chopra was also honoured, and he’s played a vital and major role in your career.
Choprasaab has always been special. His unique characteristic is that he was very, very loyal to his team. Once he worked with someone he never left him – unless that person chose to leave BR Films. Choprasaab was always keen that even a singer should get involved with the film’s totality. He would always make me listen to the story and script before I sang. From Dhool Ka Phool to the serial Mahabharat we had a memorable association with highs like Dharamputra, Gumrah, Humraaz, Aadmi Aur Insaan, Dastaan, Pati Patni Aur Woh, Nikaah, Aaj Ki Awaz and Tawaif.
By the way, I also had a connection with the other winner, Rajesh Khanna.

How is that?
Our family relationship goes back years, as our fathers being good old friends. I even recall attending Rajesh Khanna’s mundan ceremony. Kaka was very fat in college and I was quite surprised when years later I came to know that he had become a star! We met at the recording of Bandhan’s title-song and I recall him anxiously asking me “How is this song?” I later sang all songs except one in Malik and also lent my voice for his songs in Avtaar and Amrit.

It’s almost a decade since you sang in a Hindi film. Why is that?
I do not think that my voice is suitable for today’s songs. I have recorded the main song for Mata Rani Hinglaaj, a Pakistani film on Mata. Do you know that this Hindu shrine of the Mata is there in Pakistan and is extremely popular there with Muslims, who form the bulk of the devotees? The music is by Surinder Kohli and Pt.Kiran Misra is the lyricist.

What else are you doing?
I have recorded a Sufi album with 8 songs, four of which I have rendered and the rest have been sung by my son Ruhan. The music is by Ali-Ghani.

How do you look at today’s music?
(Shaking his head) I don’t find any standard in either the music or the lyrics. Among the music composers, only A.R.Rahman is innovative. I think that Rajesh Roshan was the last music director with substance.

Would you like to sing for Rahman?
(Smiles) Why not?

Your career technically began with V.Balsara’s Madmast in 1953 but took off after you won a singing talent competition and got breaks from judges Naushad in Sohni Mahiwal and C.Ramachandra in Navrang. Who would you say occupied a special place in your life, progress and evolution?
There are so many names! There is Madan (Mohan)ji who gave me few but beautiful songs, like in Woh Kaun Thi? and the full film Jab Yaad Kisiki Aati Hai. One of its songs, Arey o shokh kaliyon is among my top favourites. He also gave me the comedy song Sikander ne Porus se ki thi ladaai for Mohan Choti in Anpadh. To me he was the last word in creativity when it came to making a composition.
Shankar-Jaikishan respected Anna (C.Ramachandra) so much that when they knew I had come from there, they gave me work in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Hariyali Aur Rasta and Sangam and a full film in Balidan. Ravisaab stood out for his simple melodies, like in Gumrah and Hamraaz, Kalyanji-Anandji exploited my fullest range from the highest pitch to the low, Nayyarsaab gave me fantastic songs in so many films and no one could teach vocal ‘throw’ and rhythm as well as he could. Khayyam and Naushad would study a voice and then make the perfect song for it. Then there were Laxmikant-Pyarelal, who gave me one of my career-best songs Aur nahin bas aur nahin in Roti Kapada Aur Makaan and a very different melody like Meri saanson ko jo mehka rahi hai in Badaltey Rishtey. I also rate my songs for Chitraguptaji very highly. like Aaja re mere pyar ke rahi in Oonche Log.
But the man I would place above everyone else was Anna (C.Ramachandra) whom Shankar(-Jaikishanji) rated as the King of composers.

But you barely sang for him after Navrang.
I did sing for him in Zindagi Aur Maut, where there was this beautiful song Dil lagaakar hum yeh samjhe. Anna artiste ko samajhkar gaana banaate. He was a fantastic composer and taught me how to learn a composition. I also did Marathi songs with him.

You have never spoken much about your huge volume of work in Marathi and Gujarati cinema.
(Smiles) I have won the State Award for my work in Madhuchandra under N.Dutta. I also sang a lot of great songs for Ram Kadam, who was on a hit streak in the ‘70s. I sang in Haa Khel Saavalyaanchaa for Hridaynath Mangeshkar, for whom I also sang in a private album.

And then the Dada Kondke chapter began.
True. Dada was amazing. He would act out the song’s requirements. When he heard Kalyanji-Anandji’s Ramchandra keh gaye Siya se that I sang in Gopi he loved my singing so much that he approached me. And from Anjanichyaa sutaa tulaa Ramache vardaan in Ram Ram Gangaram we began a very long association, a lot of which was also with music director Raam Laxman.

The Gujarati innings was very successful too.
Oh, there was a time when I was recording five songs a day in Gujarati, including for private albums. I have won six or seven Gujarat state awards too.

Coming back to Hindi films, apart from B.R.Chopra, whom would you rate high among filmmakers?
Definitely Manoj Kumar. His knowledge of music and his way of visually conceiving and executing the song was amazing.





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