Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar has said she will be very happy if her singing can improve relations between India and Pakistan.
Mangeshkar, who has never visited Pakistan, said she was once invited to perform in the neighbouring country during the rule of late Gen Zia-ul-Haq but the show was called off at the last minute.
"Everything was finalised and then the show was cancelled at the last minute. The organisers said they could not take responsibility for the show," she old singer told Dawn News channel in an interview aired last night.
When the interviewer told her that a Pakistani poet had written a poem in which an Indian and a Pakistani arguing over Kashmir in a tea shop stopped squabbling after the owner of the establishment played a Lata Mangeshkar song, she said, "Aisa ho toh bahut achcha hoga (If this happens, it will be very good)."
Mangeshkar said, "I would love to visit Pakistan but no one has invited me in the last 20 years. If someone invites me, I will come."
The singer also recalled her long association with her late friend Noorjehan Pakistan's Mallika-e-Tarranum or queen of melody.
"When she migrated to Pakistan after the partition of India, I would call her up every day. We kept in touch but I could never meet her again," the 78-year singer said.
Mangeshkar, who is working on an album titled Sarhadein (Borders) that features four singers each from Pakistan and India, said, "We have recorded three songs so far. We need more songs -- good songs. But the album will be released soon."
<b1>Pakistan's Farida Khanum, Abida Perveen and Mehdi Hasan will sing solos for the album, while Mangeshkar has a duet with Hasan on the album.
Mangeshkar, who recently cut another album of non-film songs after a gap of 17 years, is not particularly happy with the music scene in India, where ghazals are usually about "saqi, sharab and pyala".
"Music has changed in India. It isn't particularly good but so has everything else. The films are different, artists wear fewer clothes," she said.
When told that Pakistani music was far behind India, she said, "I don't know about now. We would listen to old Pakistani songs such as Karar Lootney Wale. The old songs were very good.
"But if Pakistani music has fallen, let me tell you that Indian music has not risen. Hamara music bhi utna kam hua hai," she said. "When the time comes it will change. I believe the world is round and everything moves in a cycle. Things will change.
"(Music directors) SD Burman, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Jaidev, Madan Mohan, Naushad they are all gone. With them the class has also gone. There are no music directors left," said Mangeshkar, who has an ardent fan in Pakistan's new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.
However, Mangeshkar saw hope in AR Rehman's music. "He is good. Bahut achcha style hai but he does very few films," she said.
When told that it is not just the people but the market that has also changed, she said, "These new film songs last as long as the film. People still prefer to listen to old songs which are evergreen. (My record company) sends me statements so we know how many old albums are still selling."