How did you conceptualise the idea of a tribute to Kishore Kumar?
I came to industry as a follower of Kishoreda and I still have a lot to learn from his singing. Before I began my career as a playback singer, I used to sing his songs in hotels. Almas Noor (princess of Malaysia) connected to me via email and informed that she is a big fan of Kishoreda and my work, which was very humbling. Ultimately, we spoke to each other through a few coordinators in Mumbai and discussed an album collaboration. Both of us liked the plan and then, I met her in Malaysia, where we zeroed in on twelve songs, including Jaane jaan, Kya yehi pyar he, Tu tu hai wahi among others. The old melodies are recreated in a contemporary way by Jatin Sharma. What can be a better tribute than this?
Being a veteran in the industry, what do you have to say about Noor’s singing abilities?
She has a good voice and sings melodiously. Despite the fact that she doesn’t know Hindi, she went through rigorous training and several hours of rehearsals to get everything right. We also did quite a few rehearsal sessions together. I was treated extremely well in Malaysia, and although there were a few problems during the video shoot due to the laws, we shot our parts separately.
Your last full duet was in Rowdy Rathore. Why don’t we get to hear more of your songs these days?
I think my fans hear my voice through different mediums everyday (laughs). Well, I have tasted the peak of success in my career and right now, I am at a level where I don’t feel I can go any further. Having said that, I end up doing several shows, live concerts across the world even today. So in a way, I have become more busy then earlier times. Also, the music industry has changed a lot. The identity of a singer is completely lost and there is zero voice registration. Each song is popular only for a limited phase, then some other track takes over and music lovers have to surf the internet or television to get details of the artist who has worked on it. I personally believe, that the music industry is going through a very sad phase. The only ray of hope is the fact that the audience is becoming more conscious of the kind of musical genres they prefer and hence, good melodies are making a comeback.
Several singers look up to you for inspiration, but who has been your role model in the industry?
Kishore Kumar is my god and even today, I try to get that kind of perfection in my voice. I confess that during my early days, I used to try emulating his voice. Whenever the industry required a voice on the lines of Kishoreda’s, I was roped in. Be it for Amitabh Bachchan in Jaadugar or Insaniyat. It was only in 1990 with the release of Aashiqui that people recognised my voice as that of Kumar Sanu.
What is your take on the current crop of musicians and singers?
They are extremely talented, hard working and full of zest. It’s a pity that their full potential is not used. Also, I think it is high time the music composers balance their sounds with a good mix of dance and soothing numbers. You cannot have an album full of big bang sounds and vulgar lyrics. Among the current lot, I love the music composed by Ajay – Atul and Amit Trivedi.
Is there any actor from the new generation you would like to lend your voice to?
I’ll choose Ranbir Kapoor, because I have fond memories of the songs that I have sung for his father, Rishi Kapoor. Rishi was one of the few actors who did complete justice to my voice, and now when I look at Ranbir, he comes across as one of the most intense actor of this generation, I think it will be great to lend my voice to him.
What about your future projects?
I have finished recording for Neil Nitin Mukesh’s upcoming film, Dusshera. There are quite a few Bollywood projects also lined up. Otherwise, live shows continue to keep me busy.