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Interviews |  27 Jun 2012 19:49 |  By Poonam

Javed Ali: "New breed of singers want instant fame"

Javed Ali who gained immense recognition for his recent folk-styled song ‘Kilimanjaro’ (Enthiran) has become a name to reckon with in Indian playback singing. The melodious gem has struggled and strived to the core to enjoy the sweet smell of success. He is nothing less than an epitome of determination, hard work, grit, fortitude and perseverance.

Ali achieved fame in 2008 with AR Rahman’s ‘Jashn-E-Bahara’ (Jodhaa Akbar) and Pritam’s 'Ek Din Teri Rahon Me' (Naqaab). He is noted for romantic chartbusters like ‘Ishaqzaade’ (title track), ‘Kun Faya Kun’ (Rockstar), ‘Tu Hi Haqeeqat’ (Tum Mile) and ‘Guzaarish’ (Ghajini) amongst others. Apart from bollywood, he is also one of the leading playback singers in tollywood and kollywood industry.

Radioandmusic com’s Poonam Ahuja caught up with Ali for a special conversation on his musical voyage and future projects.


After soothing romantic melodies, you have rendered an item track ‘Katto Rani’ for an upcoming movie ‘Baat Ban Gaiye’. Tell us about the lyrics, music and the nature of the song?

People generally identify or relate me with soft romantic sufi melodies and it is sad that they are not aware that I have sung items numbers like Tinku Jiya (Yamla Pagla Deewana) and Kajra Re (Bunty Aur Babli).  Katto Rani is a very unique word and it is being used for the first time in a Hindi song. I have tried to put the kind of expressions that are needed for such an item number in my voice and I hope people will like it.

Harpreet Singh, who is a very good friend of mine, has for the first time composed an item song.  The lyrics for the track are penned by AM Turaz. We have worked a lot on this number and overall the music has come out really well.

Do you think it will be a tough competition to hit item numbers like Munni and Sheila?

I never sing for competition. I just try to give my best and leave the rest to the audience. You never know which song listeners will applaud to and which one will be a flop. No artiste sings keeping competition in mind. He just believes in doing his work and that is what I have done.

What are your views on the new trend of using item numbers and crude lyrics that have become the salt of every movie?

Item numbers can be used as a promotional tool as it is very catchy to attract audience easily. I think item numbers catch instant imagination of the audience. On the other hand, romantic and melodious tracks take time to grow, and people today don’t have that much time. But that does not mean romantic songs don’t have a market at all. When a romantic song becomes a hit it has a much longer shelf life than an item song which can only be heard occasionally. According to me melodious tracks are far away from item numbers and there is no comparison.

You have judged Saregamapa Li’l Champs, according to you how much do singing reality shows help upcoming artistes to enter bollywood or showcase their talent?

The new generation that is entering in the industry wants instant fame. Many of them don’t even know what is the importance of ‘riyaz’ for a singer. Only a few of them have dedication and are willing to work. I believe if you want everything fast, you will go out of the scene that fast and have a short life. The ones, who are really talented and are willing to work hard succeed in the long-run. There is very little that a channel or anyone else can do for a singer.
15-20 years back there was no platform and I feel that the artistes today should be thankful to the channels for showcasing their talent overnight. Nobody will hold their hand and make them walk,artistes need to be extremely hardworking and dedicated to succeed in life.

How has your journey been in the music industry so far?

My journey in the industry has been very tough but an interesting one.  I didn’t get anything overnight and I have struggled a lot in life. I can say that I have seen good and bad times and today I understand life to some extent.
I started my career with dubbing, whenever a song was given to a positional singer I used to sing that song before him. I used to hum tunes along with music composers while the tracks were made and these small sessions helped me a lot when I rendered my first song. I did not have to look back since then. I have sung all kinds of songs in my career, from romantic, sufi, remixes, item numbers, hip-hop, qawwali to bhajans. I could become a versatile singer only because of the experience that I had gained over the years.

I will also like to clear one misconception which many people have about me. My fans think that I am a very trained classical singer which is not true. Though I have learned classical, I haven’t learned it in depth but yes whatever I have learnt is qualitative, substantive and has helped me grow.

You have worked with AR Rahman, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar, Pritam amongst others. Which is the one composer you are really comfortable working with and share a good rapport?

AR Rahman, Pritam, Ismail Darbar and Neeraj Shridhar have all given me good songs. Every director has his own style of working and I have enjoyed working with all of them. Amit Trivedi is a great composer in the present generation and it is fun working with him as he gives enough space and comfort to singers.

How is the experience of being a member of AR Rahman team and performing live concerts ?

I can’t express my feelings in words and I thank god that I am a part of the AR Rahman team. We have done some fabulous work together. He has changed my life in the eyes of people. I have also heard that he considers me as one of his favourite singers, which is a great thing for me. I have learned a lot working under him. He is highly dedicated and fully involved in every concert that he does. He is a perfectionist and I try to inculcate and use his techniques in my personal concerts as well. I have learnt a lot from him.

Any upcoming world tour or live concerts in the country?

I had gone to US recently for a concert at Ohio Convention and there is a US tour in June end. This will be my first individual tour to the US. There will be six concerts in cities, including New York, New Jersey and San Francisco.

Who is your guru/inspiration in the music fraternity?

From childhood I have been a great fan of ghazal singer Ghulam Ali Saab. I love the style of Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Da and they are very close to my heart.

A song that holds special meaning to you and why?

Music is an ocean and it is very difficult to pick one song. But recently I was listening to a song by Latadi on radio called Tu Jahan Jahan Chalega ( Mera Saaya). Latadi has sung it so fabulously. Even if we go into details, it is a technically perfect  song.  Whenever someone asks me to sing a song of Latadi on any occasion, I sing this song.  It holds a special meaning to me.

Music to you is…

Music is music. I cannot imagine life without music. Actually, music is the life.

And how often do you listen to music?

I listen filmy music, western, classical and also all the new songs that are released, even if they are item numbers. After all you have to know what is happening around you.

Who is your favourite International singer?

Whitney Houston was effortless and I used to wonder how she sang, even Celine Dion is amazing to hear.

I would love to sing a duet with?

I would love  to sing with Latadi, even if it is a line.

Any plans of coming up with a music album?

I am planning to come up with my debut album by end of this year. The album is still at a nascent stage and things are yet to be finalized. Mostly the songs will be a combination of romantic and sufi melodies which is my personal favourite music genre.

Which are your upcoming projects ?

I have sung for a number of movies in the recent past, including Ishaqzaade, Rowdy Rathore and Jannat 2. There are number of big production films to be released in the year ahead.