Page 9 - Seniors Today -Volume no1
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of the compositions by Salilda (Chowdhury),            why she was singing the song, etc… Playback
        Madan Mohan and Jaidev. Jaidev was the most            singing requires tremendous amounts of
        challenging among the composers. He had a              precision in rendering the lyrics and tune.
        sound knowledge of classical music. He would           Har cheez sambhaalni padti hai. Maybe
        say, ‘I’ve told her what to do. Now I don’t            composers felt that Lata could pull it off.
        need to worry.’ Once he composed a song he             What is your assessment of yourself as
        left it to me to worry about it. It became my          singer?
        responsibility. And I’d be endlessly worried.          There have been better singers than me like
        I remember he had composed a Nepali song               K L Saigal Saab and Noor Jehanji and there
        for me written by the King of Nepal, King              will be better singers than me in future. I
        Birendra (Jun Mato Na Mero in the Nepali               always say whatever skills I’ve imbibed are
        film Maatighar). It was one of the toughest            God’s gift. I’ll also admit that it’s never been
        songs of my career.                                    an insurmountable challenge for me to sing

        It is often said that composers made you               anything. Every artiste has a talent. What the
        sing songs at an unnecessarily high pitch              artiste does with that talent is up to them.
        just because you have the range?                       Recording songs during your heyday was
        This is true. I’ll give you two examples:              really tough. It is said you got the echo
        Ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar in Junglee and O              effect in Pyar kiya toh darna kya by singing
        mere shah-e-khuba in Love In Tokyo, both               a bit of the song from the bathroom of
        composed by Shankar-Jaikishan. Both the                the recording studio, and that once while
        songs were first sung by Mohd Rafi Saab.               recording a song for Salil Choudhury you
        Then they decided they wanted the same                 fainted?
        songs sung by me. They came to me after                Not true. The echo effect in the Pyar kiya
        filming the songs with the leading ladies              toh darna kya song was achieved by singing
        of the two films Saira Banu in Junglee and             away at a distance from the microphone but
        Asha Parekh in Love In Tokyo, in the voice of          not in the bathroom. Please! And I did faint
        Rafi Saab. And I was asked to sing the songs           once. But it wasn’t for a song by Salilda. It was
        exactly the same way, since it was already             a song by Naushad Saab for the film Amar
        shot with the heroines in Rafi Saab’s voice.           filmed on Madhubala.
        This sounds like a form of emotional                   Your improvisations in the songs, the
        blackmail?                                             harkat as it was called, often took songs to
        Jee haan. I wasn’t allowed to lower the scale of       another level, for example the ‘Oye oye oye’
        the original tunes since it was already filmed.        in the Bichua number in Madhumati?
        So I had no choice but to sing in Rafi Saab’s          No that wasn’t mine. That was the composer,
        pitch. I remember how difficult it was for me.         Salilda’s idea. But yes, I did put in my own
        And I was very upset with Shankar-Jaikishan            harkat once in a while. Once Rafi Saab and I
        for making me do this.                                 were recording a duet for Shankar-Jaikishan.

        Don’t you wish you had more time to                    During rehearsals I decided to improvise at
        practise your classical singing?                       one point in the song. But I didn’t reveal my
        Shall I tell you something? It is much more            harkat during rehearsals. I kept it to myself
        difficult to do playback singing for films             and I sang it only during the final take.
        than to sing classical vocals. When you                You did not????!!!!
        are doing classical vocals there is room for           (laughs) Yes, I did. When the final take
        improvisation. But when you sing playback              happened everyone was thrilled by my
        you have to go exactly by the requirements             improvisation. But Rafi Saab was very upset.
        of the character on screen. I used to find out         All this was in good spirit. No harm meant.
        what the heroine was supposed to be doing,

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