The sheen of her voice embellished her maiden playback number, Tu raat khadi thi chat pe, ni mein samjha ke chaand nikla… from the film Himalaya Ki Goad Mein. With the song, 13-year-old youngest-ever playback singer Usha Timothi was born. She went on to give more popular melodies such as Jab Jab Bahaar Aayi and Mohe Bikta Sajan Mil Jaye, besides at least a thousand others in various regional languages.
The veteran Bollywood singer was in Chandigarh on Thursday on the invitation of Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society for their annual Mohammad Rafi memorial night.
When in the city, Usha Timothi relished the interactive session with local media, as she doled out mukhdas of many of her songs, besides those of other singers, to supplement her views on the contemporary music scene. “Change certainly is the law of nature and it matters a lot in the context of cinema — the medium that has largely affected the life of Indian milieu,” observed Usha, while comparing the quality standards of her golden days.
“There seems to be a paradigm shift in the basic concept of ‘song making’, with priorities of lyrics, voice, tune and rhythmic pattern going down. Sample the lyrics Badtameez Dil; How can a ‘dil’ be badtameez? Earlier, songs were written by lyricists with a strong literary background; the trend has clearly changed,” she adds.
Hailing from a Christian family of 11 brothers and sisters, Usha says he was patronised with Urdu literature and music by her parents. “We all are into performing arts. I had been learning classical music from childhood, but when once, my AIR violinist managed to make me sing at a Bollywood programme, the blessed meeting with Mohammad Rafi changed my life. He guided me and sharpened my musical skills, which resulted in playback singing at 13.
He made me perform world over, for over 10 years, at his stage shows and recommended me to Kalyan ji, Anand ji, Shanker Jai Kishan and various other performing groups and artistes.
Thanks to being active in riyaaz, I am still in demand for stage shows in India and abroad.
Rafi Saheb was a fatherly figure for me. Everytime we used to go abroad for performances, people used to touch his feet in reverence; the Bharat Ratna is too small an award for the celestial maestro,” she says.