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No plans for Bollywood: Bali Brahmbhatt

The rapper, who became popular in Bollywood with his hit single Patel rap, is happy spending time with family in Chicago.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 12:44 IST

Music composer and singer Bali Brahmbhatt, who shot to fame with 'Patel rap', says he does not wish to join the Bollywood rat race and instead looks forward to spending time with his family.

"I had no burning ambition to be a musician. I am a self-taught guitarist. As youngsters in Kenya, we played on the weekends to earn pocket money," Brahmbhatt recollected.

"We played a fusion of African, English and Hindi music, not realising then that we were actually performing a remix," said Brahmbhatt, who was here to perform at a concert along with Kumar Sanu, a singer he has always idolised.

After the success of his song 'Patel rap', a recording with music director Bappi Lahiri followed and then a North American concert in 1992 with Bollywood stars Sanjay Dutt and Sridevi.

He bonded quickly with Dutt.

"On that concert, Sanjay Dutt would call me on stage to perform the hit song 'Lena hai, Lenahai'. The song was invariably the grand finale to the concerts and received thunderous applause.

"I did not realize then that 'Patel rap' had become very popular in the US," said Brahmbhatt, who grew up in Kenya.

In 1995, he sang the song, 'Ammadekh', which turned out to be another chartbuster. And then there was no looking back.

But success has not imbued Brahmbhatt with the fierce competitive spirit necessary to keep up in the Bollywood numbers game.

"I enjoy singing. I enjoy meeting Bollywood stars. But I sing because it gives me pleasure. I was never in the rat race.

"A lot of these (music) deals, I do in yaaridosti. It is not my profession. After a time, the travelling gets to you. I want eventually to enjoy my retirement with my family, put my feet up, and have a glass of cold beer."

Although Brahmbhatt has had training in basic Indian classical music, he maintains that he is just a rapper.

"I am a fun loving guy who chanced it big in Bollywood. I am still surprised at my success. You are just one among the millions of people who live in India. Among them, to make one song a hit is a bloody tough job."

He said rap music had given him a niche in the fiercely competitive Bollywood music industry.

"There are singers like Abhijeet, Vinod Rathod and Kumar Sanu, who got in with the voice of Kishore Kumar and eventually they got some songs in films. If I came in from London saying that I will do Kishore Kumar or I will do the voice of Rafi, they would have said, 'We have millions of singers like that'."

On his music album with Asha Bhosle, Brahmbhatt said it was an "exhilarating experience".

"The idea was to treat the music the same way as music director R.D. Burman would have done if he were alive today. I used modern music instruments and called it a remake, not a remix."

He recalled the legendary singer "an absolutely fantastic person to work with". "There were many contenders for this album. But Ashaji put her faith in me and I did not breach that faith."

He recalled another memorable experience of his with renowned playback singer Manna Dey at a 'fusion concert' in Goa.

The concert began inauspiciously. Manna Dey, who was apparently unaware that he was to perform with a 'rap singer', was in a rage, Brahmbhatt said. "He was in his room at the hotel, when I did my riyaz, he heard me and remarked 'this boy is doing classical.'"

When he expressed surprise at a rap singer practicing classical music, I told him, "I have absorbed every sur of the many songs that you have sung. Later, he came on to the stage and blessed me in front of the audience."

Among the singers he admires are Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar.

"You listen to Lata singing effortlessly. Suddenly she finds that one unexpected break in the song, where she can inhale. It is awe-inspiring.

"Or take Kishore Kumar. I can visualize him singing, 'Usnebola kemche' because he did, 'Angrezimain kehte hain..."

Brahmbhatt attributed his success as a singer to his mother who urged him to never forget his roots. Although he grew up outside India, he said his mother ensured that he learnt to speak Gujarati.

His parents also encouraged him to learn Sanskrit shlokas.

"You do not realise as a child the energy you are pulling in. It is amazing how later on in life it helps you effortlessly interact with people all over the world."

First Published: Apr 12, 2006 12:44 IST