Veteran strains

HAR KISI KO NAHI MILTA: Get going Manhar.

HAR KISI KO NAHI MILTA: Get going Manhar.  

Can a successful career be made with talent alone as the ingredient? Perhaps not. A Godfather, some aggressive public relation exercise, some divine intervention and a dash of luck. Mix all these with talent and one might stumble upon a magic potion called success.

Agrees Manhar Udhas. The playback singer did create ripples in Bollywood with some highly hummable numbers. But, somewhere along the line, as he admits, "luck failed to turn its benevolent eye''.

Whenever he got the right opportunity, Manhar trained his voice to cause a rage in the film industry. Many of his songs are still remembered and hummed. Remember Har kisi ko nahi milta from Feroz Khan's Qurbani or Tu mera jaanu hain from Jackie Shroff starrer Hero? Still, the status of a star singer continues to elude him.

But Manhar is not bitter. "After 35 years in the industry and so many songs, I am still struggling for a place. Lack of luck, perhaps,'' he turns philosophical. In the same breath, he sighs: "I am being made to prove myself at every step. But, therein lies the challenge.'' His fascination for singing dates back to 1950, when Manhar, while going to school, first heard K.L. Saigal's Jab dil hi tut gaya. "I was mesmerised. The song simply haunted me,'' he reminisces.

A mechanical engineer, he changed tacks and shifted base from Gujarat to Mumbai in pursuit of a career in playback singing. The break came in 1969 with Vishwas, which was followed by Abhiman in which he gave voice to the popular song Loote koi manki nagri.

``With legendary singers like Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Mahendra Kapoor around, it was tough to gain even a toehold in the film industry,'' he says. Since then, many hit songs came his way and several of them turned chartbusters like Har Janam mein from B.R. Ishara's Kagaz ki nao and others.

Ghazal gayaki seem to run in Udhas family. Manhar and his younger brother, Pankaj Udhas, have earned a reputation of their own as ghazal singers with their distinctive rendition styles. Manhar has so far released 20 ghazal albums in Gujarati apart from a horde of devotional albums. "Several of my Urdu ghazal albums too were received well across the country. What makes me happy is that albums recorded some 14 years back continued to get discerning listeners and appreciated,'' he says.

By T. Lalith Singh Photo: Satish H.

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