Spanning almost four decades in Bollywood, one of the most respected and oldest singers around, Anuradha Paudwal is ideally known for her bhajans and spiritual tracks today. However, back then in 80s and 90s every second song had her voice and the songs that she rendered were huge chartbusters. Thanks to T-series creator Gulshan Kumar, who was instrumental enough in taking Anuradhaji’s career to dizzying heights. Though she may be less active on Bollywood front now, she’s more than happy with her devotional numbers and holds her own stand for music.
While the 61-year old singer is still busy juggling with her shows, we got hold of the veteran singer in an exclusive chat in our special section Music Mania via a messaging app. Read On:
What led you to take renouncement from Bollywood songs?
I haven’t renounced Bollywood. It’s just that I moved towards doing devotional songs. T-series had also sort of stopped doing Bollywood songs to great extent. It wasn’t a conscious effort. It just happened. The transition was gradual. I didn’t go out of my way to deliberately do that.
Why you shifted focus to devotional songs?
Because I was always religious by nature and I felt peace. In Bollywood every day is like starting afresh and proving yourself to the world! I had seen it and been there. There was so much to do in devotional.
Does it bother you when people remember you for bhajans more than Bollywood numbers?
This is absolutely crap. I am happiest person right now. Whatever songs I have rendered for the films like DIL HAI KI MAANTA NAHIN, AASHIQUI will always be remembered. People still love the songs of these films. I am the last person to even think that way. I think bhajans is a very special blessing to me from God. I am equally popular in regional, spiritual and Bollywood numbers.
Was turning to devotional songs a wrong move?
Not at all. Looking at the way the industry is going and where there is absolutely no security I feel that was the best decision at the right time! To exit when you are at the top.
Are you again looking forward to make a comeback and do Bollywood numbers?
If I get a nice song certainly yes. But there has to be similar kind of a composer and producer to make such films & songs. It’s not a one man show. But I haven’t tried to get there again. I am pretty content and happy in the position where I am in. I am enjoying doing devotional and feel absolutely lucky.
You share an age-old relation with T-series are you looking forward to start from there?
I entered T-series with a lot of faith. My faith was always in the company as I consider it. As Vaishano Maa’s company! Even if after not singing in Bollywood, since 1997, I am still doing programs successfully. It is only her blessings. Absolutely, if I get a great song from them why not? I have given my best years to T-Series and my name is synonymous with the company.
Are you cordial with Bhushan Kumar in the same way as you were with father Gulshan Kumar? What’s your equation with T-Series now?
Yes I share an excellent relation with Bhushan. I am extremely proud of the way he handled the company at such a young age in middle of the crisis and took it to new heights. I will be grateful to Gulshanji and T-series as long as I live, for it was his efforts and vision which brought about the revolution in melody and also devotional. If singers have a celebrity status today it is only because of him.
What was Gulshan Kumar to you? Talk about your equation with him? Did you share common sensibilities?
We shared an excellent rapport together.
With what type of songs or with which singer you are looking forward to work?
I would probably still opt for melody with today’s kind of arrangement.
Are you in touch with the singers of your times?
Yes I am thru ISRA, a platform where we can interact. It is very touching how all of us have bonded like a family! Thanks to Sonu Nigam for it.
What do you have to say about the current trend of music industry?
Today it is more about enacting and performance oriented. Back then you were really required to be able to sing. You had only your art to fall back upon. Today music is like window to the world. The way they feel the music, they compose it.
But are you against the way the industry is going. I mean with the kind of indecent lyrics and songs that are being played?
I don’t think it is wrong. They are very busy doing their own thing and I am busy with mine.
How’s your equation with Lataji, Ashaji and Alka Yagnik? There were reports that you shared not so cordial relations with them? Have you patched up with them?
I worship Lataji. Ashaji is a great artist. I share cordial relations with all the singers of my time. There was never any strife. These are the misunderstandings created by a lot of well-wishers.
Among the current crop of singers, who do you see has the potential or true spark?
The current crop has to cater to another generation of audience and I think they are doing so brilliant work. Why should they represent any of us? It would be so unfair to them. All the singers today are extremely talented. I admire them. Wish I was as confident.
According to you, which singer truly represents you from today’s generation?
I see my daughter Kavita representing me. She has grown in the same sanskaar and has beautifully achieved the right balance between the two generations.
Despite having such an amazing journey in Bollywood do you have any kind of dissatisfaction and regrets?
I am extremely blessed to have sung successfully in all languages and genres. Music is my life. To have been equally successful in Bollywood and Bhajans was only possible due to Vaishnao Maa and my guru of course Gulshanji for his keen sense of marketing. Having said that, Bollywood is not the beginning and end of everything. There’s life beyond it.
Who’s your closest buddy and who do you really look up to from the industry?
I have been pretty close to all my colleagues. I’ve always worshipped Lataji as I said.
There was a time when only few singers had a chance to make it big. But now it has place for everyone what do you have to say about this era?
Today I look at the industry as an entertainment media. There’s nothing emotional about it.
Is the industry biased?
Well there was always groupism in the industry. I guess you just have to be plain lucky
What’s music for you?
Music for me is God. You can’t become one with anyone but God.