Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya tells Nikhil Varma the use of multiple instruments and computerisation has compromised melody in favour of songs that have no meaning, but may gather eyeballs

He owes his career to R. D. Burman who noticed his voice and gave him his first break in the industry. “It was a last ditch effort and I had almost given up any hope of a career in Bollywood,” says Abhijeet Bhattacharya. Abhijeet shot to prominence in 1994 with movies such as Yeh Dillagi, Anjaam, Raja Babu and Main Khiladi Tu Anari and won the Filmfare Best Playback Singer Award for Yes Boss in 1997.

He has also sung songs in Baadshah, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Josh, Dhadkan, Chalte Chalte, Main Hoon Na. In town for the Alive India in Concert, Abhijeet says such shows help spread the message of music.

Apart from his playback singing stints, Abhijeet was also a judge at many of the talent reality shows that have mushroomed on Indian TV over the years.

However, he contends that these shows have outlived their utility. “When they arrived in India first, the shows were conducted fairly and musical talent was being unearthed. However, over the past few years, I have seen the same batch of singers appear in most of these shows. Many of the contestants are relatively old. We have seen instances of people participating with their children in reality shows. This trend must be discouraged.”

He adds, “The judges on these shows are appreciative of all the contestants. They seldom put their hand up and say that a particular singer cannot sing well. In the race for TRPs, judges cannot criticise or point out bad singing. They play to the galleries. This ensures that even good singers cannot sing songs outside their comfort zone.”

Abhijeet says that the art of playback singing is dying.

“The use of multiple instruments and computerisation has ensured that melody has been compromised in favour of songs that have no meaning, but may gather eyeballs. If you do not get the best in the business, you can have anyone strum a guitar or sing a song and make it sound excellent.”

He adds, “Many of the music directors now make the songs during recordings, often tweaking the tone according to their whim and fancies. We used to idolise legends like Kishore Kumar and R. D. Burman and would made efforts to sing like them. The youngsters have no such idols. You either have to be a good singer like me or you must be someone like Himesh, who has a unique voice to be successful in India.”

Abhijeet says that the Internet has played a very important role in changing the dynamics of the music industry. “We do not have to depend on big music firms and go chasing them for an opportunity. You can upload videos on the internet and would get noticed instantly. With the advent of such devices, I hope musicians will also get a better share of the massive profits film and music companies.”

Abhijeet has now become selective and choosy about the songs he sings. “Earlier, I used to pick up any song that was offered to me. Now, I have realised that I cannot continue in that manner. I sing songs only if I find them appealing. I am also working on a set of single albums that shall be released in a year.”