Music is not a copy-paste job

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Two of a kind Vocalist T.V.Gopalakrishnan and ghazal singer Bhupinder Singh
Two of a kind Vocalist T.V.Gopalakrishnan and ghazal singer Bhupinder Singh

He sang for his guruji (to mark his guru’s 70 years in music). At the end of the 45-minute fabulous concert many in the audience requested him to sing more. But he politely refused saying his guruji has instructed him to stop and that’s it. Hurrah to this guru-sishya jodi!The guru is the multi-skilled T. V. Gopalakrishnan. Adept in Carnatic and Hindustani vocal styles, he can also play a range of instruments including the mridangam, violin, thavil and saxophone. TVG (as fondly referred to) the teacher is like a friend-in-need for his students. Ever-enthusiastic and smiling, his zest for life is laudable.The sishya is Bhupinder Singh, a singer with a hauntingly throaty voice. His superhit numbers of the Seventies and Eighties such as “Dil Dhoondta hai”, “Ek akela is shehar mein”, “Naam ghum jayega”…still stir you. It’s more than a decade since he moved from playback to singing ghazals with pretty wife Mitali.

The Take Two was more a friendly chat. Chitra Swaminathan listens in…

TVG Beyond rhythm, beyond language, beyond grammar… A great voice makes you forget everything else. Bhupi, it’s unbelievable, you sound the way you did 25 years ago. One felt like the songs you rendered were recorded just yesterday.

Bhupi It was you who taught how to improve and preserve the voice. You told me about articulation, improvisation and making proper use of the muscles and space inside the mouth. These exercises have kept my voice fit and give it the energy to go on. Whether I am rehearsing, recording or performing, your advice rings in my ears even today.

TVG That’s the ideal way to get the best out of your training. Refer to the mental notes constantly and not let the strain show on your face or singing. Like the way a fine batsman finds the right time and space for a smooth boundary.

Bhupi Besides individual effort and skill, a coach’s role is vital. His/her suggestions are valuable.

TVG Teaching needs the same amount of passion and commitment as performing. You need to earn your students’ trust. It’s so gratifying when they talk about your role in their success.

Bhupi How easy or difficult is it to groom the know-all youngsters of today?

TVG They are willing to learn and have a quick uptake. But multi-tasking leaves them with little energy and confused. All the same it’s fun interacting with these busybodies. They help me connect with today’s world.

Bhupi What about technology-driven tunes?

TVG Technology has improved the reach of our arts. Online lessons have attracted many from the country and outside to take learn classical music. But don’t let the computer rob your identity. Music is not a copy-paste job.

Bhupi I remember how Pancham (R.D Burman) changed the way Hindi film music sounded with his innovative techniques. During my initial struggle days I used to hang out with him. Then he was aspiring to get into music composing. Our friendship developed into a working relationship and resulted in many memorable numbers. Similarly, I cherish the day when Ilaiyarajaji introduced me to you. Though we have hardly met a few times over the years, I feel very close to you. Hope it’s the same with you too, guruji. (laughs)

TVG You don’t need meet everyday to bond well. Music bridges time and distance (smiles).Coming back to your singing, it must have been tough having stalwarts as Rafi, Kishore, Manna Dey and Talat Mehmood for contemporaries.

Bhupi Oh, yes. Rock solid voices that are a favourite of music-lovers even today. But they were such simple human beings. Otherwise how could have I rendered that debut song of mine from Haqqeeqat, “Hoke majboor usane mujhe bulaya hoga…” with Rafisaab around. Madan Mohanji offered me the song after listening to me on the radio. I used to work at AIR Delhi. Though the song was a hit but it didn’t do much to my playback singing career.

TVG Like me, you too are basically an instrumentalist rather a guitarist who has played for top music directors of the Hindi film industry.

Bhupi I have worked mostly for Pancham. It was wonderful to strum the guitar for songs such as “Dum maro dum” and “Chura liya”, “Mehbooba mehbooba”.

TVG What do you think of the songs now? No complaints, there are many melodious and meaningful songs. In the late Nineties began a new phase in life, when I took to ghazals after marrying Mitali. I started enjoying the experience of performing live and connecting with the audience instantly. And the journey continues.




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