Updated: April 25, 2021 8:46:19 am
At the peak of their stardom in the 1990s, Nadeem Saifi and Shravan Rathod enjoyed the kind of adulation that is usually reserved for A-list Bollywood stars. Their chartbusters in films like Aashiqui, Phool aur Kaante, Raja Hindustani, Deewana, Sadak, Saajan, Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin among many others made them a household name.
In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Nadeem Akhtar Saifi, who has been observing fasts during the ongoing holy month of Ramzan in London, spoke about the late Shravan Kumar Rathod and remembered him as his “chhota bhai” and his confidante. For Nadeem, Shravan was the person he shared his soul with because that was the only way to “make soulful music that is remembered even today.”
Shravan passed away on April 22 in Mumbai due to Covid-19 related complications.
When Nadeem and Shravan met for the first time
Nadeem recalled the first time he met Shravan at a singing competition. “We met through a common friend of ours Mr Harish Bopaiah, who is no more. I was studying at Elphinstone College (Churchgate, Mumbai), that’s where Bopaiah made me meet Shravan, and subsequently, we were invited to St Anne’s Girls School singing competition. Both of us were invited separately, but after the competition, we came down and had tea in my college canteen. We started discussing music, and we just clicked. So we decided why don’t we, like Lakshmikant Pyarelal, start making music together. This was the time when duos were a rage. So we started jamming, and our journey started from there,” he shared.
On Aashiqui’s success
We asked him what song he would dedicate to his music partner Shravan and Nadeem, with a parched throat after weeping for his loss said, “Saanson ki zaroorat hai jaise” from Aashiqui, the duo’s breakthrough composition.
Nadeem recalled, “We were making music but we were still waiting for our big break. I was nothing back then, I wanted to go for Umra (pilgrimage to Mecca) and I borrowed some Rs 40,000 from my father. At the Umra, while taking rounds of the Kaba, I had prayed that we get international fame, and when I came back we were offered Aashiqui.”
“Our music was blessed with this magical intervention, and then we didn’t look back. We stayed true to our music, and we got what we deserved. We got to work with the best film producers and best music labels. People were going gaga about these songs. It was a phenomenal craze. Every song was on every top list at the time,” he shared.
Nadeem recalled that era of success and said, “Shravan, was my music partner, my friend and confidante. He was like a younger brother to me. We were really going great guns because our compatibility was so fantastic. But somewhere down the lane ‘nazar lag gayi, nazar lagni hi thi’ because our success was not ordinary, it was extra ordinary. So, then what happens to great success stories, happened with us, something that shreds all the success you’ve had.”
Nadeem remembers the charming personality that Shravan was, and how he would give his heart and soul to make music. He said, “He was such a charming guy, he had a bewitching personality in the sense that his positive attitude towards life, it was infectious. He made things happen, he believed in people, he was not critical of them, he just trusted them and went on with life.”
“If ever me and Sameer thought that we didn’t want to work with a particular producer, Shravan would just ask us to relax and give different possibilities. He would solve any complications we ever experienced. We would make fun of him that he said yes for everything, but then that’s what really worked. Without him, we would have had a tough time functioning. He was the joining force for us, I miss that about him so much. You ask him anything, and he would say, ‘Jee bhaiya’, and he would do it,” said Nadeem.
About the duo’s painful split
Reliving painful memories from their split, Nadeem shared, “I was falsely implicated and I fought tooth and nail. I won in every court of law and was even given nearly one million pounds as compensation. But because of the situation created by the false implications, I had to ask for asylum and stay back (in London).”
“So what happened is, the police in India coerced him into giving wrong statements. Of course, he later retracted them. He was made to give statements that weren’t true at all and it took a toll on him. It took a toll on me because I was already strained with the allegations that were against me. This created misunderstanding between us, and music only comes from a place where you need perfect tuning and harmony. But this misunderstanding turned a sour note in our most melodious team,” he painfully recollected.
“However, as the years passed by, I also realised that whatever Shravan was made to do, was under coercion. This was followed by a gap of at least twenty years where he did his work, and I did my work but I was detached from music. I didn’t make music in this period, I was into perfumery for twelve years,” he said.
“I did thirty-two films from London, like Raaz, Kasoor, Dhadkan, so many of which won so many awards, but then I started feeling that it was getting too critical, too messy and too terrible. I decided I didn’t want to live a life like that so I branched out of music and got into perfume business (in Dubai) but later came back to London.”
Reunion was on the cards
“There was never any conflict between the two of us, in fact, we were planning to work together in the future. While we didn’t want to get back into music composition for film, we wanted to do live shows. We three were so close that if I was thinking something, Shravan would say it, if he was thinking something, Sameer would say it. We three were really connected, and it was predestined, I am sure,” Nadeem shared.
Nadeem further shared, “Shravan and I were close friends. We were like brothers, we could give our lives for each other. And because we had this kind of tuning, we could make the music that we did. We had many ups and downs, but we never gave up on each other. We were always connected, first by our music and then by the mutual respect and love we have for one another. We would telephone each other quite often, Shravan, Sameer (Anjaan) and I were always in touch.”
“When I returned to London from Dubai, Shravan and I were seriously considering to do live shows in the US and other international destinations. I had just started initial negotiations and research and development, but then Covid-19 happened, so we thought we would do it once we can, once the pandemic is over, but that’s for another life now.”
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