With a mellifluous voice that soothes the heart and uplifts the soul, Alka Yagnik, often called the Nightingale of Bollywood, was here in the city to perform for a fund-raising show with the Rohit Memorial Trust. With vague recollections of having come to the city ages ago, she shares about her world of music. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.
With a career spanning three decades, Alka Yagnik shares that initially it would just be going to the recording studio, recording a song and coming back. Nowadays, there are many activities around music that keep Alka busy. There are stage shows, workshops, and plenty of travelling. Her milestones are her two national awards and record seven-time ‘Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer’ awards. However she accords greater importance to the songs that people will remember and sing for a long time to come. She says, ‘Every song sung by me that has been loved and will be remembered by people after I’m dead and gone is a milestone.’ Talking about starting an academy she shares that it’s been shelved for the moment, as such a venture should be thorough and needs a lot of commitment.
Playback singing ranks on the top for Alka Yagnik, as that is what has brought her so far. She also shares her love for live concerts, because they give her the opportunity to interact and sing for people. ‘I’m now selective about the kind of music I do’ she shares, adding that while during her earlier days she would sing all songs to gain exposure, today she is selective both about the songs and the concerts she takes up. ‘Reality shows are great for honing new talent’ she says, adding that being in the line for so long makes it her duty to help young singers blossom. In fact participants of reality shows are in touch with her and come for grooming.
It is tough to choose favourites among different songs for Alka. ‘I can’t choose one song, as they’re all my songs, and they’re all like my children.’ It is equally difficult to choose a favourite composer among the many she has worked with. ‘Each composer has a unique working style, strengths and makes a singer render a song in a particular way, so each has taught me something.’ When asked how she has handled difficult songs, she shares, ‘A song could be difficult, but it is on me to make it sound simple.’ Many a time, she’d sit with the song before recording, try to hum it, add some elements here and there and then the whole process would become simple to handle.
Music in the changing times
Today’s music scenario is different and the changes have been both good and bad. Alka says that while we are technically very advanced today, with better recording techniques, music has lost its soul. We need more of melody and soulful songs. ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’ are the kind of songs she’s happy to do and A R Rahman knows how to use a singer’s voice the best. So when he approached her for this song and when she heard it, she instantly knew why he had asked her to sing it, and agreed. ‘I have come this far without any planning and it’s been a wonderful journey. So whatever God has in store for me, I will just let that happen’, she signs off.