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Interviews |  17 Jul 2008 15:47 |  By ShabanaAli

Abhijeet Bhattacharya - ' Earlier, controversies were edited out of reality shows, now they need more'

The romance shows no sign of fading from his mellifluous voice. Although Abhijeet Bhattacharya, better known by his first name to Hindi film music afficionados in the country, has returned to the limelight with a new album after a huge gap of six years, his voice retains its youthful charm and magic.

Fans, who have enjoyed his voice, all the way from Ole Ole-Yeh Dillagi to Om Shanti Om's dhoomtana, have grown used to seeing him on television reality shows too, judging young talent.

In conversation with Radioandmusic.com's Shabana Ali, Abhijeet shares insights from his musical journey over the years.

Excerpts:


You have been in the industry for a long time. What are the changes that you have observed over the years?

There's a revolution on in the music scenario now. It can be termed as'revolution', but there is no music in it. Everything is done by the machines, it's no more about creative composing. The latest music has too much of techno sounds and less of music. For me, it's no longer music, it' just sound. And, the exposure this music is so much, that there is hardly any difference between a flop song and a hit song. It is all about pumping in a song and turning it into a hit by playing it 100 times on a radio station or on TV.

Revolution in the industry was brought by R D Burman, A R Rahman. But after Rahman's sound experiments with machines, everyone started working on sound. That's why everything we hear today sounds very similar to our ears.

You have been through all the phases of this revolution. Which of these scenarios was good for you?

I am no one to judge what was good and bad. As far as my comfort level is concerned, I am very comfortable with my work. I do not measure myself with others or the growth of the music industry. I always compare myself on how much I have grown in the past years. I am paying a lot more income tax than what I did in my past (laughs). Now, I earn a lot, and I am very content with the kind of work I have done and I am doing.


Why didn't you try your hand at composing?

I am already into composing for my albums. As for composing for films, I do not have the temperament that's needed for the job. Hats off to the music directors who have the patience to make music for others. I have seen the best being rejected. I don't have that much of patience and I am satisfied composing for my albums. Actually, it needs a lot of time to make music, and now I am very busy with my stage shows, reality shows and playback singing.


Have these television reality shows given a lot of impetus to artistes who participate in them?

Has it only brought business and recognition to the participating artistes? We are the face of the shows. The reality show is being watched because artistes like us are a part of it. People do not want to see just the contestants that the show brings on stage. They want to hear our comments on the contestants. If it wasn't for the specialist nature of our comments, the director of the show could have invited some guru or a panditji from Allahabad and installed them as judges in our places.

One sees you often arguing vehemently with the other judges on these shows. Is it for real or are these just gimmicks?

When it is a reality show, people want to see things for real. There are many shows that plan out such things but, no one can say that about me. I think I started this trend - I cry, I pull Alka Yagnik's leg, I get angry; everything is natural and no one guides me to do that. Apart from that, the editing also plays a very important role here. Earlier, such things were edited out and the singing was more in focus. But now, the show wants more of such controversy.

Don't you think there has been a surfeit of talent hunt shows on TV?

Yes, there has been a surfeit of such shows. Hence, today we see Ek se badhkar ek and Superstar doing equally well. We had a lot of shows that got in new talent, but these shows are doing good because of their uniqueness. It's all about different formats now, it's no more about mere talent hunts.

You have cut many albums. Do you think artistes should get a better share in the royalties?

We can't help that, that's the scenario in India. Here, people don't respect an artiste's work. Here, the artistes work for others. We don't work for ourselves. Outside India, artiste compose one album and the next three generations do not have to earn their living. Whereas, in India, people are capable of topping the charts, but they work for others and earn very little out of their work.

Is the issue not worth fighting for?

We had taken a stand long ago. We wanted our next generation to gain from it. Now, I have made my career and it is not going to affect singers like us.

Unfortunately, the singers were never united.

Are you doing anything for the Bengali music industry?

I am never connected with that. I always wanted to sing for a certain kind of music. There was a time when Bengali movies were made into Hindi but, now even Bengali movie have become commercialised. I don't want to lend my voice to anybody there. I am very happy being a singer, I don't want to be anything beyond a singer. I am a born singer and I love it this way.