When he sang 'Mitwa' for Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), not many knew that Shafqat Amanat Ali's voice was also the one behind popular Sufi tracks such as 'Khamaj' and 'Tere bina'. They were part of the Hyderabad Blues 2 (2004) soundtrack.
He has spent nine years in Bollywood, and since then, has rendered more popular tracks including 'Yeh honsla' (Dor; 2006), 'Tere naina' (My Name Is Khan; 2010) and 'Manchala' (Hasee Toh Phasee; 2014).
Ahead of the release of his third studio album, Shafqat talks about his musical journey in India, and shares his views on Bollywood music.
You released your last album in 2010. Why did it take you five years to come up with another one?
Actually, I have been working on my new album, Muhdikhai, since 2013. As I was busy with my tours, it was quite a task to get the whole team's (people working on the album with him) schedule to match mine. Also, I wanted to make sure each song is unique. So I created 14-15 compositions, out of which only nine finally made the cut. That process took time. Each song is different in its feel and genre. The album is a mix of semi-classical, Sufiyana, rock and pop music.
Why have you sung such few Bollywood songs over the past two years?
In a way, I am being selective. Well-written compositions with good melody are a must for me. I feel blessed to have been approached for the right songs most of the time. You should be convinced about every project you do. When I'm not singing for films, I travel for concerts, and work on my productions and OSTs (original soundtrack) in Pakistan.
What, according to you, is your USP?
Well, that is for the listeners to decide, really (laughs). I just work with conviction and focus on what interests me. While I do create songs that I believe appeal to listeners, I don't overtly worry about the same.
You have not been part of a band for almost a decade. Do you miss your band, Fuzon?
I have not wanted to be part of a band since we parted ways. I do not fancy dealing with the issues that tend to arise when you are part of a band. I am enjoying my journey as a solo singer.
How has your musical journey in India been so far?
It has been interesting, and I have enjoyed it immensely. It has been a productive phase for me, be it in terms of my album releases, live concert tours or Bollywood singing. I have received a lot of love from the Indian audience. I feel blessed to have sung in Bollywood as I have got to associate with some of the most talented musicians of this industry.
Do you like the way Hindi film music has transformed over the last decade?
It has really evolved. I feel the contemporary music producers have contributed to this in a big way. Bollywood is producing some really interesting music. It has also encompassed several genres and one gets to hear many new voices in movies now, which, I think, is a healthy sign.
We've heard that Shankar Mahadevan gave you a break in Bollywood.
My first Bollywood song was from my album, Saagar. The two tracks used in Hyderabad Blues 2 (2004) from the record were 'Tere bina' and 'Khamaj'. But yes, the first song I came to specially dub for a commercial movie in India was 'Mitwa' by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.