Anup Jalota: I chose Shreya Ghoshal

Anup Jalota

Anup Jalota: I chose Shreya Ghoshal
He needs no introduction. Anup Jalota has been the face of devotional music in India for the longest time. The Bhajan Samrat recently launched an album based on holy Hindu scripture The Bhagavat Gita. In an exclusive interview, he talked about the album, his movie projects, reality shows and more…

How and why did you decide to lend your voice for The Bhagavat Gita?
I believe it is important for every Indian to know the essence the Bhagavat Gita. The holy book gives you an insight on karma and religion.

A few years ago, I had recorded all 700 shlokas of the Bhagavat Gita for Venus Records. But this time on, I wanted to understand the meaning of the book from someone who knows it the best before narrating it again. Satya Sai Baba spoke a lot on Bhagavat Gita, which is why I asked him about it. He said, “It’s so simple. The first word of Gita is ‘dharam’ (law) and the last word is ‘mamm’ (My). So Bhagavad Gita is ‘mamm dharam’ aka my law.” This means that every individual should understand the Gita and follow their duty.

After I got a better understanding of the Gita, I recorded the album.

How has the initial reception of the album been?
The response has been great! We have recorded the album in Hindi so that the common man too understands the book. All 18 songs have been written by Maya Govind. I have sung Krishna’s part and Arjun’s lines are sung by Vivek Prakash.

The launch of the album was also a huge success. We presented a musical drama on stage. While I played Krishna, Vivek played Arjun. The idea was to do a dramatic launch so that it gets the maximum exposure. (laughs)

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Has the audience and their taste changed? Particularly when it comes to devotional music?
There have been a lot of changes, but the essence of good devotional music hasn’t changed. It is a proven fact that devotional music helps you in life. After listening to my songs, people come and tell that they experience good emotions. Why would any one want to change that!

It’s an assumption that the devotional music genre is for the oldies? If yes, then how do you think this can be changed?
Devotion and spirituality is something everyone has accepted. No matter what generation he or she belongs to. When a kid has to write an examination paper, he will surely think of God once.

I feel, the way in which you present the devotional music to the kids should be different. It should be in such a way that will interest them. My song ‘Aisi Lagi Lagan’ has been presented in a very compact way. It’s been three generations since the song has been a masses favorite. I sang it in a ‘Jhumka Gira Re’ style. (Smiles)

I always try to present a devotional song in such a way that it sounds interesting, yet its purity is maintained.

Tell us something more about the upcoming album, ‘We love you Jagjit’?
‘We love you Jagit’ will be released by HMV Records. The album comprises songs by nine renowned singers like Shaan, Sukhwinder Singh, Jaspinder Narula and Richa Sharma. The best part of the album is that all the singers have sung a line or two in each and every track. We asked all the singers to give in their input for all the songs on the album.

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Who do you see as your able successor? Who among the current crop of singers has the quality to enchant the masses with bhajan and ghazals the way your voice did?
I feel I am a beginner myself. I don’t think I have reached any space like that. (Laughs) However, Vivek Prakash is a good singer. One of my students named Suneet Tappoo is a good artist. Sharad Gupta from Hyderabad is very also good.

Among my female students, Koyal Tripathi, Preeti Seth and Sanjana Thakur, who learn music and sing along at shows, are very good singers.

We hear that you are producing four Hindi films in 2013.
I produce three films every year. Last year, I released Malik Ek based on Shirdi Baba featuring Jackie Shroff, Monica – a political murder featuring Divya Dutta and Tere Mere Phere.

Coming year will see four films produced by me. Boys Toh Boys Hai will release on January 18, 2013. Maksad, Pakkau and Hum Baaja Baja Denge will hit the silver screen in 2013.

All are commercial films based on diverse topics. However, I am unable to spend much time on these projects. I have a dedicated team who takes care of it.

How is your movie role in and as Sathya Sai Baba shaping up?
Sathya Sai Baba used to fondly call me ‘Chotte Baba’. He once even mentioned that I look similar to him. So, I guess, I was meant to play him on screen. When I got this opportunity, I grabbed it.

The movie is almost ready and will be released by March-April, next year

You mentioned in a recent interview that although reality shows is a superb idea, but most talents lack basic training. To nurture the talent better, what would you suggest?
The only part of a reality show that disturbs me is that SMS (short message service) system decides the fate of a singer. I believe this is not fair. There should be two titles, ‘Judges Choice’ and ‘Popular Award’ for any singing reality show.

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The winners on such reality shows fade away in no time. Many have disappeared within a short span of three months! The selection system is incorrect.

I have judged quite a few reality shows back when there wasn’t any SMS voting. I chose Shreya Ghoshal and look where she has reached today. I still judge a bhajan reality show every year wherein singers all across the country send in their entries. Singers like Jagjit Singh, Anuradha Paundwal, Shubha Mudhgal, Suresh Wadhkar etc. have been a part of this show. We finalize 10 singers and, based on their performances, we select three winners. We collate their songs and release an album. They perform with me at shows as well.

This is how we establish a singer. Reality shows focus on drama—judges bicker, singers turn dancers and the focus is on what clothes they are wearing. I hope the trend changes soon.

What do you think about the recent trend of artist collaborations? Are you planning to do so?
I think it is a very good idea. Collaboration enhances the music of both the artists involved and a new form of music is evolved. I had composed a fusion album Koyalia. It had classical vocals set against lounge music background. As of now I have been busy with the ghazal albums. Hopefully, I shall work on something interesting like that again.

Dec 26, 2012 –

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