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‘Pakistani artists are exploiting us’

Singing legend Jagjit Singh is upset with the fact that a bevy of Pakistani artists are thronging India for work while talented Indians are hardly getting any opportunity.

music Updated: Jun 17, 2011 01:44 IST
Robin Bansal

Singing legend Jagjit Singh is upset with the fact that a bevy of Pakistani artists are thronging India for work while talented Indians are hardly getting any opportunity.

“We have been giving them opportunities and they are exploiting us. They don’t have any future in Pakistan. India is their only market so they are encashing on it. And then Indians have this approach that everything that is imported is good,” says the singer, who was recently in the Capital to perform at the launch of Brys Group.

“No doubt they have talent and we never closed doors for our neighbours, but now, it is their turn to open doors for us which they will never do,” adds, Singh, who was also vocal about Pakistani artist Rahet Fateh Ali Khan’s recent detention at an Indian airport for carrying undeclared cash.

“If he does an illegal thing, he will get caught. He was carrying undeclared cash, that too without paying taxes. He is a criminal in that case. Authorities have full right to take action,” says the singer, who was recently honoured at the House of Commons in London.

“It was honoured by the Indian societies there and the venue by the House of Commons,” says the singer, who has just wrapped up his London tour and is now heading to Mauritius for a week.

Known for evergreen renditions like Hothon se chulo tum, Jhuki jhuki si nazar and Hosh walo ko khabar kya among others, Singh, 70, has been absent from the Bollywood scene for quite some time.

“Nobody calls me in Bollywood now. Their style and poetry have changed. They have vulgarity now. I’m not needed,” says the singer, who wouldn't mind composing for the big screen, if approached.

But does that hurt him as an artist?

“No. It doesn’t hurt me because my plate is always full with something or the other,” says the legend, who has no qualms in accepting that “it’s the colour of money” that still keeps him going full throttle.

"When you get rewarded for your efforts, you put in more,” he says conceding music changed drastically over the course of years especially ghazals.

"Music has changed drastically. People don’t have the time and patience now to sing for long classical sessions. Neither do they read Urdu poetry. They are trying to forget their culture and are copying west blindly," he says.

Upset with the discrepancy in royalties for musicians in the country, Singh, is also upset with the rising numbers in piracy.

“People don’t give us the royalities here vis-à-vis the West. Music companies just gobble it up. We don’t get even 20% of what we should,” he says.

"Then there's piracy. Tere should be a proper copyright act that could help artists. But then nothing will change as stealing is in our blood. Hence we’ve given birth to piracy," he adds.

Hence, he is now also going digital with his music.

“I’ve released a new Punjabi song, Leke phulkari soe soe rang di, on iTunes recently to test waters and will take it forward in the digital arena,” says the singer, who has a slew of national and international tours lined up apart from a at least four albums this year.