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The man with the golden nose

Gen-Now music buffs can’t have enough of his nasal septum. And now, Bollywood’s hottest composer-singer opens a new chapter — as an actor, writes Lalita Iyer.

entertainment Updated: Aug 16, 2007 11:26 IST
Lalita Iyer

Himesh Reshammiya’s nasal septum has been a greater cause of national concern to purists than, say, Lata Mangeshkar’s vocal chords being under threat courtesy the Pedder Road flyover, or even Bappi Lahiri’s bling.

But Himesh has always been a matter of ‘national concern’ it would seem — the headlines just won’t leave him. Only this week, he was all over the news for visiting Ajmer Sharif clad in a burqa, to seek divine blessings prior to the opening of his debut film as an actor, Aap Kaa Surroor — The Moviee — The Real Luv Story. Before the issue could take an ugly turn, Himesh, diplomatic as ever, was quick to tender a public apology. His line: he went disguised in a burqa to avoid being mobbed.

Back to his singing, and the news is finally out there! Himesh has agreed in print that — yes — he does sing through his nose. But that certainly hasn’t diluted the crowd frenzy — there is a certain amount of collective spontaneity in moving to a Himesh song, never mind the ooohs and aaahs. Last week I was at a posh Bandra nightclub… and guess what the crowd was grooving to?

Whatever the orifice — nasal or vocal — the mania about the guy is only increasing. Blogs have been dedicated to him, hate mails are assuming a new form, lookalikes are being born by the dozen… there are more ringtones, call-back tunes, caller tunes inspired by his music than any other composer’s. What next? Elevator music? The last time I was at a music store, there were double and triple CD compilations of Himesh Hits — and someone is surely buying them.

And no music composer can match his autorickshaw following: they have lapped up every Himesh beat, with or without reverse echo jhankar beats.

As fans multiply, so do enemies. Himesh has fallen out with Anu Malik, Boney Kapoor, Asha Bhonsle, to name just a few. In fact, Ashaji wanted to slap him over his Mehbooba version in his film Aap Kaa Surroor. While they have now kissed and made up, Lata Mangeshkar maintains a studied silence and claims she doesn’t know him and hasn’t heard him ever…

We meet Himesh in his Versova abode, having spent more time sipping milky chai waiting to talk to him, than actually talking to him. He eventually emerges, swathed in a long black leather jacket and, of course, the proverbial cap. Then, our photographer commits the ultimate blasphemy — he asks Himesh to take his cap off. “What are you saying…?” he chokes. “Don’t think such thoughts — there will be a national calamity.” Somehow, his words sound ominous and we settle for the cap, over his flamboyant jacket and a whole medley of rings.

Early start

Picture this. Himesh Reshammiya is nine years old and on stage in school, giving his debut vocal performance in an aspiring Mohamed Rafi voice with the song John Jani Janardhan from Naseeb. Yes, that’s where it all started…

He composes for the 15 year olds. “It is very important to know what they are thinking, they are my biggest audience,” he says.

Much has been said about his ‘oooh’ factor — that long, plaintive sound that forms the opening bar of any Reshammiya song and his ‘rich’ vocabulary, peppered with words like kashish, suroor, kasoor, aashiqui and sarfarosh, to name a few…

Even if you switch channels on the television or the radio when they are playing his songs or reprimand an auto or cabwallah for doing the same, or walk out of a club that breaks into Reshammiya beats, stop a workout as the gym is teeming with Himesh fans, chances are that when you call a friend to bitch about it, the friend’s ringtone may well be a Himesh number. There is no escaping this guy.

With his father well entrenched in the music industry, one would have thought making an entry would be no big deal. “I could have entered any time, but I didn’t see myself struggling — I wanted to enter in a big way,” he says, with his trademark enormous self-confidence.

Hit pe hit

And Tere Naam, of Salman Khan’s not-so-lovely locks fame, was just that — big. Loudspeakers went frantic, so did charts, and so did producers who went on a mad signing spree, hoping for further musical blockbusters — which he seamlessly delivered with his ‘hit-pe-hit-pe-hit’ formula, and his relentless frenzy of producing 30 tracks in less than six months.

When he says he has a bank of 3,000 songs, you believe him. When he says he owes every thing to God, dad and Salman Khan, you don’t say a word. Dad, Vipin Reshammiya, is a Gujarati composer who got him on track (pun unintended). Salman Khan is the good samaritan who signed him on as music composer in lieu of a film that never got made (which, incidentally, Himesh’s father was producing). When he says he is inspired by world music, and wants to explore it in every form and sound, you grant it to him. Probably that’s why both raga-based melodies and sprinted youthful numbers come easy to him — Tere Naam, Aitraaz, Aashiq Banaya Aapne, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, Aksar, Phir Hera Pheri, 36 China Town, Namaste London, to name a few. When he claims to be working on 40 films and giving up to three to four tune options for every song, you accept this ‘Himeshism’. When Aashiq Banaya Aapne scored way higher than Parineeta at the awards two years ago… you didn’t bat an eyelid.

But there is one question that still remains unsolved: Cap ke peeche kya hai? And yes, the just released Aap Kaa Surroor, inspired by his eponymous album that sold a record of over 10 lakh copies purports to unravel the Himesh mystery — what is his love story, why he wears a cap, why he does not smile… get the picture?