By Rajesh V. Gaur & Suneel V. Gaur
Udit Narayan, who celebrates his birthday on December 1 is considered one of the greatest singers of his generation for the quality of his voice and originality, even by Lata Mangeshkar. The number of songs coming his way may have reduced but his fans have not. We managed to get hold of Udit in a chatty mood. Excerpts:
Please tell us about your days of struggle.
My struggle started in Bihar when I was six. My elder brother would carry me on his shoulders to the fairs in different villages. I used to sing in those fairs. In appreciation, I would get a garland made of currency notes, which would be Rs 11. From Bihar I went to Kathmandu, where I joined Radio Nepal. I sang songs for nine years in Nepal. My goal was to sing for Hindi films so I came to Mumbai.
You are a singer with an original voice. Who is your idol?
I admire singers like Kishore da and Mohd Rafi. I am their fan. But fortunately I didn’t end up imitating the legends.
Would you say the singers of today have failed to make a lasting impression on the minds of the listener?
Kishoreda lasted for 40 years, I have been singing for 25. This is the biggest challenge for the current lot. I am not saying they aren’t talented, but they might not last so long. Total dedication, hard work and luck are the important factors for success.
You have sung for practically all the lead stars. Do you make a conscious effort to change voice or style to match them?
If I know the actor I am singing for, yes I do. I would sing a song differently if it was for Shah Rukh, than for Aamir.
You are singing a lot of Bhojpuri songs. Why don’t we hear more of your songs in Hindi these days?
When Kishoreda arrived on the scene, everyone said Rafi had become outdated. But he was still singing despite the setbacks. If such great names had to face a slump, I am nobody. But even after 25 years I am still around and that’s a nice feeling. ‘Mere gaane kam ho gaye, Par main gayab nahin hua (My work has reduced, but I am still around).’
Your songs were a part of Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman’s biggest hits. Now they have switched over to new singers?
They are all experimenting with their roles, so maybe they feel it is time to move on to fresher voices.