Bhajan maestro Anup Jalota speaks to Nikhil Taneja on the launch of his new album, Ishq Mein Aksar.
You don’t team up with other musicians often. What prompted you come up with a romantic ghazal album with Raavi More?
It’s true that I mostly do solo albums but when I heard Raavi More for the first time at a private gathering, I really liked her voice. We’ve sung in the style of Jagjit and Chitra Singh. She’s done a good job.
In these times of economic slowdown when even Bollywood hits have few takers, is there a market for such an album?
There’s a niche market for ghazal albums. And a bigger market for bhajans. I’m releasing a bhajan album every two months.
Every music label is interested in one because bhajans sell even in small villages where they don’t know much Urdu but they do know about God. That’s why there are around six channels that play devotional music 24x7.
Today’s generation doesn’t appreciate ghazals much. That’s because of the language problem. Today’s children don’t even know Hindi well, how can they understand Urdu? They speak chalti firti English, so ghazals don’t make an impact on them.
But ghazals needn’t only be in Urdu, right?
True. In fact, you’ll be surprised that ghazals in Gujarati and Bengali are extremely popular. Pankaj Udhas and I are coming up with a ghazal album in Malayalam.
But the main market for ghazals is in Urdu. And for them to come up, an interest in Urdu has to be developed. But you can’t simplify the language, that’s bad!
How important is promotion for such albums?
Promotion is needed for singers whose music isn’t that good. I had sung Aisi laagi lagan 30 years ago. It was never hyped yet people are still listening to it.
Your music must have repeat value. The Kaanta laga was really popular. But who will buy it today? Which singers do you listen to today?
Kailash Kher, definitely. He has a very different voice.. something the industry really needs.
Your take on lyrics today?
Surprisingly, they’re good. In fact, mujhe Rock On!! Ki poetry bahut achchi lagi. It was a difficult thing to carry off. Hats off to Javed Akhtar saab!
You had a TV show, Dharam aur Hum, that used to air a few years ago. Don’t you think it is the right time to bring it back?
The reruns are still running since the last seven years. But I’m more into into film production today. I’m making three Hindi films including one on Shirdi Sai Baba with Jackie Shroff in the lead. And five Bhojpuri films too.
Would you ever return to playback singing?
Since I’m making films now, it’s very easy for me to make a comeback to playback singing. But I’m not interested. Let others do that job. I enjoy live concerts, it’s like a nasha now.