Though Javed Ali doesn’t sing a lot for films these days, he has several hit tracks to his credit. With songs such as Arziyan (Delhi-6; 2009) and Kun Faya Kun (Rockstar; 2011), the singer has contributed immensely to Sufi music in Bollywood. Javed has sung a track — Mahroom — in the upcoming movie Happy Bhag Jayegi. He is also set to perform in the city on August 17. A huge fan of singer Ghulam Ali, Javed says he was inspired to learn music by listening to the ghazal legend’s songs.
Love for ghazals
Javed says that while ghazals are not working commercially today, they will make a comeback. “Ghazals can never die; they will come back. If I’m given a choice to pick what I am interested in, I will definitely sing a ghazal for a movie,” says Javed.
The playback singer has collaborated extensively with AR Rahman. Talking about his equation with the celebrated composer, he says, “Rahman saab is a composer who makes an artiste feel comfortable. There are times when he changes his melodies if a singer faces difficulty in singing parts of the track. He doesn’t force his compositions on the singers.”
Explaining why he doesn’t feature on Bollywood films’ soundtracks as often as he used to in the past, Javed says, “People usually call me for experimental songs. The number of tracks made in Bollywood has also gone down. There are only four to five songs in every movie, and there are 500 to 600 singers in the industry. So, it depends on your luck. I sang a number in Wazir recently though.”
Problem of plenty
Javed insists that he records frequently for films even now. “I have been singing a lot, but at times, a director decides to replace the voice, or the song doesn’t match the situation in the movie,” says Javed.
The singer also feels that the shelf life of songs is short these days. “A new song releases every 15 days. So many new tracks keep coming up. You have to be part of that race,” he says.
For the record
Recalling one of his most memorable recording experiences, Javed says working on the track ‘Kun faya kun’ was amazing. “When I went up to the microphone to start singing, Rahman sir asked me to do wazoo (the preparation done before offering the namaaz) because it was a spiritual and pure song. After wazoo, Rahman saab locked the studio, and nobody was allowed to enter. Irshad Kamil (lyricist), Rahman saab and I were the only ones inside. Irshad was writing the lyrics for the song. We started recording at 8pm and we finished by around 6am the next day,” says Javed.
Of late, a lot of Bollywood actors have ventured into playback. On the trend of actors turning singers, Javed says, “A film is made for actors and actresses, not for singers. So, if they want to sing the songs that are picturised on them, there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t tell them not to sing because we want to sing their songs.”