RAJKUMAR RIZVI met Indrani Chatterji while they were part of a government delegation to Russia. Music was an instant attraction for both. But for Rajkumar Rizvi it was the ‘typical Bengali’ features of Indrani that captured her in his dreams. “I even learnt Bengali to woo her,” he says with a youthful blush.
Decades down the line the couple has written a beautiful marital recipe that has transcended the barriers of diverse religion and culture. “I had to really convince Indrani’s parents.
They would ask me about my work and all I had to say was that I was a singer,” he says. Their combined musical prowess bore fruits and they emerged as one of the most-sought-after ghazal-singing couples.
Indrani had topped in MA (Music) from Delhi University but marriage to Rajkumar followed by motherhood changed her life and she even gave up her desire to become a lecturer. “I was originally a classical singer but switched to ghazal singing so that I could sit beside my husband on the stage,” she says.
Reminiscing his first duet album with his wife ‘He Paints Ghazal’ that was released in 1980, Rajkumar says, “We still have a lot of squabbles over music.” The couple has two daughters Runa and Neha, both of whom are well entrenched into the world of music.
They moved to the US a few years back and have three musical academies at New York, Toronto and Chicago besides the Indian Music Institute at Mumbai. Why did the couple move to the West when they well established in India? “Over the time I started feeling that some companies were behaving in a biased manner. My albums were being sidelined.
This disheartened me,” Rajkumar says while promptly adding, “I have, however, maintained close ties with India and keep visiting the country frequently”.
Conceding that the ‘glory’ of ghazal had waned, he said, “Ghazal will never die because it a melodious and soulful translation.” Rajkumar had sung for ‘Laila Majnu’ and a Rajasthani movie ‘Momal’. “I am these days busy with my project on Mira and Ghalib”.
Like the other forms of music, ghazal has also been touched by the experimentation culture and the result has been detrimental to its purity, he says.
“In Mumbai, real music has evaporated and we enjoy performing in small cities like Bhopal because of the culture-savouring audience”.
And what difference does he find in the audience of India and the West? “In India people are more critical because they know the musical language. In the West they really enjoy musical programmes and shy from making critical comments”.
Lastly what binds them together? “Music obviously. Music is our life, religion and language”, both say with the same wavelength.