In the 1980s and '90s he composed furiously for the disco era and those Jumping Jack dance numbers. At 52, he's laidback, but still pretty active.. sitting for nearly four hours for a show shoot at Famous Studios.
He made a supposed comeback with Bambai nagariya of Taxi No 9211 early last year. At 8 pm, he dabs make-up for the second segment of his show while I ask him:
Dada, why have you not been composing lately?
Who told you that? I'm composing for several movies that will release by the end of this year.. Buddha Mar Gaya, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Mudrank, Jhoom, Junoon are a few that I've composed for.
I was composing till 1999. Then, the music scene suddenly changed. There were multiple composers on a given project. That left me confused. Following that, I kept away from the scene for five years. Thanks to Vishal-Shekhar, I sprang back to film music. But I was active in America. I did a remix of Kaliyon ka chaman there. It recorded bumper sales.
You recently sang with Sanjay Dutt.
It was for Sanjay Gupta's Alibaug. I have sung for Sunil Dutt, I've sung for Sanjay as well. This time, both of us sang for my son Bhappa. I loved Sanjay's voice. The song was difficult for an untrained singer.. not like Aati kya khandala. It's a serious song.
<b1>Why do you appear subdued on Sa Re Ga Ma as compared to other mentors?
They're all my juniors and each other's contemporaries. They can have heated discussions, exchange thoughts and differ on opinions loudly If I was among my contemporaries like RD Burman or Kalyanji-Anandji, I would've expressed my opinions.
Being a senior, wasn't it your responsibility to control Ismail Darbar's rudeness?
I don't know if I should say yes or no to this. Ismail didn't agree with the opinions of Asha Bhosle and Khayyam saab. Maybe his way of putting it wasn't correct, but I don't think there's anything wrong in expressing views.
He even apologised to them later.. that was possibly edited from the episode. Ismail is a guru and they were mahagurus.
Why have you chosen to give only three children a chance to sing in your projects?
Ooori baba! They're such fabulous voices.. Mauli Dave, Amanat Ali and Sumedha and even Raja Hasan. They're top quality I don't . make promises to give a chance.. I straight away give it without a second thought.
Whatever happened to your album with Whitney Houston?
The album is ready for almost a year now. She's not had the time to mix it. Once that is done, we'll release it. I've been working in both Hindi films and in the west because getting a Grammy is my goal. I'm working towards it.
Didn't you want to bring the Jacksons to work on your projects?
Yes. I wanted to. They've agreed as well.. but Michael can't make it. The other five will. We'll record an album and have five to seven music concerts in India, and maybe some abroad as well.
Comparatively, don't you think there is too much music plagiarism today?
I agree. I don't say that in our era, we didn't adapt songs and tunes. But that was one or two songs out of 10 in a year. Today the condition , is so poor.
A recent hit album had six songs.. all of which were lifts. I don't know where that leaves originality. The only person I feel is doing a good job now is AR Rahman.
Years ago, Asha Bhosle said somewhere that you had cheated her. What's the equation now with the Mangeshkars?
My relations with the Mangeshkar sisters are as good as ever. The issue you are talking about happened in 2002. Asha had a problem with the HMV because she sang for me and those compositions were used against her will in some album. She blasted them before the press. I came into the picture because I was the composer.
Don't you think with your kind of popularity, you could've become an actor like Himesh Reshammiya?
I acted in
Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi
when I was only 18. True, I could've become an actor.. I still have that
I have a story idea in my mind about a senior composer and a young singer. I wish to direct and act in it. It should happen sometime in the near future. It will be an art-house film.
How do you take the gags about you?
I think, jokes are made only about someone who is popular. Even Sonia Gandhi is not spared. I take it with a pinch of salt.
But yes, some people, under the guise of humour, criticise me, they try to humiliate me.. someone recently wrote in a newspaper that I don't have work. So, I have all the time to sit on the show. It shows the person's jealousy. He's not even half as experienced as I am .. haisiyat nahin hai phir bhi bolte hain.
What's with so much jewellery you wear all the time?
This is all my lucky jewellery that I wear. It bears all the deities I worship, because I'm a God-fearing man. This jewellery is my style statement now. I love it.
And finally, at 52, how do you look at ageing?
(Laughs) I look up to Amitabh Bachchan and learn to take ageing gracefully I follow his footsteps on that completely. He is youthful even at 64. He's my inspiration.