He is a hard-core Punjabi. She is a down to earth Bangladeshi who won his heart with her voice and Bengali sarson fish,but not before he won her over with a song,Yaadon ko sar-e-shaam bulaya nahi karte. It was music that brought them together from two diametrically opposite parts of the world,and 25 years on,it is music and the love for its evergreen notes combined with soulful poetry of ghazal that has kept them together.
As one of ghazals greatest duos,Bhupinder and Mitali Singh sing their love song on stage at Tagore Theatre as they share their experiences and how nothing can take the place of ghazal gayaki. They were in town for a performance on the Bank Day celebrations of State Bank of India.
Weve been here twice before, shares Mitali. She does most of the talking,while a generally-quiet Bhupinder nods his head. There are moments of disagreement too – he compares lip-syncing in films to parroting and prefers the background score or a song fit to a situation more apt. On the other hand,she doesnt mind the actors dancing around and singing.
But they do agree that visions of music composers have changed and has become more westernised. Instrumentation and orchestration has undergone a huge change, said Bhupinder. Mitali agrees.
They recall their 70-member orchestra with maestros at its helm. Everybody got along well with each other,suggestions would fly in,it was on-the-spot improvisation, she recalls.
Bhupinder fell in love with Mitalis voice when he heard her on Aarohi,Doordarshan,in the early eighties. Mitali,on the other hand,was introduced to his music through a Bangla song he had sung. After doing my Masters in Music from Baroda,I moved to Mumbai for my MPhil,and thats when I met Bhupinder, Mitali said. They got married in April 1983.
A stellar voice in the playback scene,Bhupinder was noticed by music composer Madan Mohan in Delhi,and he got him to Mumbai. Soon,Bhupinder won the hearts of people with classics like Dil Dhoondta,Kisi Nazar Ko Tera,Ek Akela Iss Shahar Main,Hoke Majboor Mujhe with Mohammad Rafi,Huzoor Iss Kadar and Naam Gum Jayega. The Amritsar-born singer is also an ace guitarist.
After the duo got married they travelled the world for their concerts. We were sure of one thing that we will keep our work exclusive and not churn out albums every six months, said Mitali.
Mitali and Bhupinder recently released their album,Aksar,which has been set to ten soulful poetry by Gulzar.
The loss of Ghazal maestros Jagjit Singh and Mehndi Hasan is irreparable,but Bhupinder is confident that ghazal will live on. There are learners,lovers and writers of this art form,and it is here to stay, he concludes.