His tracks O Humdum Suniyo Re (Saathiya; 2002), Bheege Honth Tere (Murder; 2004) and Channa Ve Ghar Aaja Ve are popular even today. However, Kunal Ganjawala has become selective about his playback projects now, as he is satisfied being a composer. He will be performing at this year’s edition of the Mulund Festival, which is being organised by an NGO called Sewak — that aims to promote young talent — in association with Hindustan Times. Ahead of his show on December 27, the singer talks to us about how Bollywood music has changed over the years, why he doesn’t sing a lot for films, and more.
You apparently wanted to become an actor. How did you end up becoming a singer?
I didn’t want to become an actor. I just wanted a reason to break the school regimen. Luke Kenny (musician) was my senior in college. He used to go for acting classes. So, I joined him. I never dreamt of becoming a musician. I was bullied into singing in 1990. Cricket was another passion that I wanted to pursue professionally.
Why do you sing fewer songs in Bollywood films now?
Things have changed over the years in the industry, and that is a natural progression. At the time of Lata Mangeshkarji, Asha Bhosleji and Mohammed Rafi saab, things were very different. So, they survived for long. Today change has happened just for the heck of it. It’s not that newer artistes have brought something extraordinary to the table. But, I am happy that I have over 1,000 songs to my credit. I feel satisfied.
Watch the Bheege Honth Tere video here
In an interview earlier this year, you had said you don’t like artistes from Pakistan coming to India and recording songs?
It’s not true. All I meant was that if they are coming, they should do the proper paperwork. They should come with a work permit. It’s unfair to come on a tourist permit and record.
What keeps you busy?
I am busy writing and composing music. I have also been meeting a lot of film producers. I am glad that I don’t sing for a lot of films now. I have the time to look within, and create the kind of music that I want to sing. With playback, you end up singing the way a composer wants you to sing. I remember, when I sang O humdum, AR Rahman (composer) thought I’d (do) justice to the melody. So, he didn’t tell me how to sing it. I was given the freedom to innovate. But after I sang 100 songs, composers wanted me to sing in a certain way, which I didn’t like. That brought out the composer in me. Perhaps, that is the reason why most composers also sing today — to do justice to their creation.
Watch the O Humdun video here
Today, almost every film’s soundtrack features more than two composers. What do you think about the trend?
We are just aping the west. There’s no rationale in having so many composers. The soundtrack is not cohesive. But then, sometimes, the film’s story is also not cohesive. So, at times, it’s good that there is variety. I think it’s important to move with the times, or else you will be left out.
Among the current lot of singers, who are your favourites?
I really like Arijit Singh. Apart from him, everyone else sounds the same. I also like Neeti Mohan and Shalmali Kholgade.
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