He proved papa wrong!

Papa Kehte Hain Udit Narayan told us to dream Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Papa Kehte Hain Udit Narayan told us to dream Photo: Rajeev Bhatt  

It's vice versa. The zest in his voice echoes on his face, the simplicity of Udit Narayan's demeanour reflects in his singing.

Having completed 25 years in the profession, the six-time Filmfare and two-time National Award winner says the journey has been difficult but he is enjoying it thoroughly. "I come from a small village on the Bihar-Nepal border. I developed a liking for music through barats - marriage processions, running after bullock carts. My farmer father wanted me to become a doctor or an engineer. He would say `kya nautanki karte to' when I used to sing in Ramlila."

Udit, who is promoting his first film as a producer `Kab Hoi Gauna Hamar' says he doesn't have the problem of pronunciation as most people from Bihar have because he is from the border area and his mother tongue is Maithili.

After completing intermediate from Nepal, he got a job on the Kathmandu Radio Station. He says things started changing in 1978 when he got a scholarship to learn classical music at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai. "I got my first opportunity in 1980 when I sang under Rajesh Roshan in `Unees Bees.' However, it took eight years to register my presence in public mind."

He is referring to `Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak' and the song is obviously `Papa Kehte Hain.'

"The lyrics were again a welcome coincidence. The film, in fact, launched many a career. Aamir Khan, Mansoor Khan, Anand Milind." Alka Yagnik, who could not make an impact after `Mere Angne Main' also found a lifeline courtesy `Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.'

However, with Aamir Khan in the film, doesn't this underscore the point that you have to be the voice of a successful actor in a successful film to survive in Bollywood?

"This has been a limitation with playback singers and it will remain. In a private album you can try your own thing but not in films. Here the challenge lies in first matching your voice with a particular star and then moulding it to suit other stars. As soon as you hear `Mere Sapnon Ki Rani,' you think of Rajesh Khanna and with `Kabhi Kabhi,' Amitabh Bachchan comes to mind. This was the magic of Kishore Kumar," feels Udit.

Udit, who considers Mohammed Rafi as his ideal, says he also faced similar challenge when the media dubbed him as the screen voice of Aamirafter the success of 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak' and `Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander.'

He worked on it to suit Shah Rukh with hit songs like `Mehendi Laga Ke Rakhna,' `Ae Ajnabi' and recently `Janam Dekh Lo.' "Not only Shah Rukh, I have given hit songs to Sunny Deol, Akshay Kumar and even young Shahid Kapur," he says with a smile.

"This is the reason of my longevity in the industry. Today, film stars from South wait for my dates to record their songs."

A tinge of pride, no doubt, but well deserved and hard earned.


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