He may have swayed us with his mesmerizing tone over the years, sung an array of chartbusters for several Bollywood hit films like DIL CHAHTA HAI, KAL HO NAA HO, KOI MIL GAYA, JAB WE MET, DON – THE CHASE BEGINS, FANAA, KABHI ALVIDA NA KEHNA, 3 IDIOTS, WANTED and many more, lent his vocals for leading men of Bollywood from Shahrukh Khan to Salman Khan to Aamir Khan to Hrithik Roshan & others, yet the very versatile singer Shaan is displeased with the ongoing trend.
We had an exclusive encounter with the crooner recently and he spoke about the current sensation Yo Yo Honey Singh, how music has lost its essence, how singers now succumb to doing only item numbers, why people are crazy behind party anthems and much more in glamsham’s Music Mania section. . Read On:
Being a singer was considered an elite thing back then, what do you have to say about the current scenario with so many songsters flooding in the industry?
Singing is now a universal thing. It’s no more a specialized thing. Anyone who wishes to sing can. It’s like breathing, talking or walking and it’s going to become more and more common place. Unless you can do something incredible with your voice you are just among millions who are singing today with the gizmos, where people are constantly being corrected. Going back to golden era is always going to be great and the voice is also genuine. I was probably among the last generation of singers whose voice is not being pitched. But even that changed from 2004-2005. Now even my voice is being pitched wherever I sing.
Is singing losing its sheen?
If Honey Singh croons a number and considered as a song, which is ideally what? a rap or someone just talking in rhythm, than everyone can sing. If I ask you to sing ‘Lungi Dance’ even you will be able to. How difficult is that? And if that is accepted as biggest hit, then the level of song writing and songs has dropped so hard that if I add four more notes people won’t be able to sing it. You just need to have fun beats, tune and lyrics to make a song today. It’s about a song-writer. How smart, fun or catchy songs you are able to write is what matters now. It’s no more about singers.
But Honey Singh changed/brought in a new wave…
…Honey Singh has brought in a trend of lyrically demeaning stuff. Even if these songs are not working, but audiences are lapping it up. Even parents are making their kids listen to Honey Singh songs. The mindset has changed.
People find ‘It’s the Time To Disco’ as nursery rhyme today compared to ‘Aunty Police Bula Legi’. But the fact is ‘It’s the Time To Disco’ has better beats to any of these songs. It has got cleaner lyric but no one wants to hear to it. People are going crazy for Honey Singh numbers. Even kids don’t want to listen to ‘All Is Well’. I am still waiting for the day when youngsters, at one point of time, come and say that ‘We want to listen to clean and nice stuff’.
Don’t you think it is the order of the day? Ultimately only such songs sell
I am intrinsically a singer and would like to hear songs which have singability to it. But who am I to dictate what works and what doesn’t. For the common man if it is working and if these songs are reaching out to them, then who can stop it?…Earlier also there were raunchy lyrics like in the track ‘Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja’ but you never felt ashamed of it because the tune, the singing, the music, etc was done like a jazz song. But now the musicability has only dropped. So it’s the way you sing. If you sing a good song like ‘Hume Tumse Pyaar Kitna’ in an indecent way with a guttural tone, it will obviously sound sick. The tonality has to be perfect. If a situation is a cabaret and the girl is throwing herself on you how can the lyrics not be raunchy? They will be. But what is the musicality and sensibility to it? We are not progressing but regressing now. We are making it more simplified and basic. Singing is not a rocket science today. We are supposed to evolve and take human mind to next level. But with the business being so big no one cares to aspire to push it ahead. People are just making for the hake of it.
The popular veteran singers have also rendered some really sensual numbers. What do you have to say about them?
Yes they have. Like KishoreDa has sung songs like ‘Jhopdi Mai Chaar Paai’. Ashaji throughout 80s has sung songs like ‘Taaki O Taaki’. Even Rafi <i>Sahab</i> has sung crazy songs but he is remembered for his variety. They have crooned various types of songs but for the person, who has only rendered tacky songs, will be forgotten. It’s as simple as that.
According to you what is more important social responsibility towards the society or being a part of the bandwagon?
It’s a question of survival today. I have held on to my social responsibility all these years but what I have achieved? In last four years I’ve got no songs because when I sing a song, it sounds decent.
It is digitization. Blame it on the fact that today filmmaking, music making is just a business and there’s no social moral responsibility that anyone wants to take for it. It’s very dangerous. It’s like creating next nuclear bomb because of the lowering of the moral standards across India example being various cases. People who should take the responsibility are shying away from it and those who are sitting at homes are twiddling their thumbs giving interviews.
So will you succumb to it?
I probably will because I have to survive. Today if you go to a party will you stop the DJ from playing the song? No. On the contrary you will dance to ‘Munni Badnaam’ happily. So it’s easy to raise questions but practically have to stay with it. Kids are listening to such kind of stuff and enjoying. This is my profession, not my hobby or passion.
Wherever I am going, there is no romantic situation. There is only demand for item songs, party numbers or club tracks. My brief is only Honey Singh type gaane banao. I have made beautiful love songs but sadly there are no takers. So we have to go according to the market.
Do you suggest filmmakers when they come up with such thing?
I am no one to suggest them. They are making the film. They just give me the brief and I follow it. It’s about the person who’s putting the money in and it has to be a hit song no matter what.
Don’t you wish to take a stand against it
I don’t know if I’m meant to do that. I don’t scream from the rooftop and say that I have done this so look at my videos and songs. It’s not about taking stand and trying to become a God. If I get a song like ‘Subah Hone Na De’ even I will sing it but it won’t sound so guttural because of the sensibility I have. But I want to be played at the parties, though I have sung dance numbers in the past. I also want to be played at the clubs. Moreover, preaching everyone is a waste of time. And to say that I stand for this or that is also not making any sense it’s like sour grapes. If you take the catalogue out, you will notice there have been so many crazy songs that we have sung. Those were raunchy even at that point of time. But there’s certain decency to what I do. It is not working in today’s time which is why I think Salman Khan’s ‘Jumme Ki Raat’ is more remembered than ‘Tere Naina’ because of its style of singing.
'Sonu Nigam is more versatile than me. I am next closest to him'
We are looking like people who are sitting in the sidelines and just cribbing. We are looking like people who didn’t get to sing those songs so yeh galat hai, yeh ashleel hai. What moral policing are we doing? What is the point? Even 5-6 years ago I may not have taken these assignments I thought it’s going to change but now everyone is into doing this only. It’s time for changing ourselves only. May be we are overthinking. Not that I am jumping into singing dirty songs immediately but am just changing my stand.
Whatever endeavour you’ve taken, it’s been successful and also you hold respect for your work. Aren’t you content with the fact that people look up to you?
Yes, the good thing is that I have never been at the peak at any point of time. I have run various things. At least I would never hear that I can’t stand this man. I’d rather take tenth position than to be slammed. Whatever I have done I have given my 200 percent. Thankfully I was never taken in negative sense and never had negative reactions. I have never taken myself too seriously. I never had regular publicist or did over the top publicity. Yet people have that image or impression of me that’s really great.
According to you, which singer you truly represent and who do you think among the current crop of singers represents you?
That’s just a crazy question. I am just happy being an ardent fan. I can’t represent anyone. While Mukeshji’s simplicity is difficult to achieve, it comes direct from heart, Rafi Sahab’s versatility and the way he used to sing makes you believe that no one can love you more. When Kishore Da sings you can’t make out whether he’s saying truth or false. Itna magic aur charisma hai ki you only fall in love with the voice.
I still haven’t done that much work that someone can represent me. I never had a Shaan. All the artists have had their clones. I never had the clone yet. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad.
Do you consider Sonu Nigam as your closest contender, since you guys started out together and can do a lot of modulation with the voice?.
Sonu Nigam is more versatile than me. He is more talented than me and I’m not being modest. I am saying this in all honesty but I think I am next closest or second to him because we came around almost the same time. We did different kind of songs. Even KK is one of the finest singers. We all are great buddies.
Talk about your upcoming ventures.
As composers I am working with Gaurav Dasgupta and Roshan, my partners. I am doing music for Tigmanshu Dhulia’s next film YAARA and other films too.