On a high note

Known for soulful numbers like Kun faya kun and Ishaqzaade, the Mumbai-based singer is upbeat about Tum tak from his upcoming film. In a candid chat with CS, Javed shares some thoughts on music and the path ahead as a crooner:

Javed Ali
Who: Javed Ali
What: On music and his future plans
PIC/ Kiran Bhalerao

The right choice
Firstly, I don’t decide which songs to sing. I would like to believe that songs choose me and I try my best to do justice to them. I don’t wish to be framed as someone who sings a particular type of songs – melancholic or sufi, for example. I wish to keep experimenting with my voice. That’s also the reason why I’ve been singing songs for South Indian films. Language is just one of the many challenges there. Their style of composition and arrangement differ too. I take delight in these obstacles.

Male-female divide
When you think of female singers in Bollywood, there are barely a handful to name. But when it comes to male playback singers, you have a lot more options and thus more competition. So, the challenge is to set oneself apart from the crowd, and every singer strives to do exactly that. I’m no different. But, I sing from my heart and I nurture my talent to the best of my ability.

My father played a great role in my becoming a singer. Growing up, listening to masters like Rafi, Kishoreda, Lataji, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan saab and Chote Ghulam Ali Khan saab shaped me as an artiste. I spend a lot of time listening to musicians like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan. My roots teach me that a singer must pay attention to others’ work too and not be stuck with their own repertoire. Like they say, never be a lakeer ka fakeer. (Smiles)

Changing times
Gone are the days when a singer had to visit a music composer several times to bag a song. Now, you get a call from those who want you to sing and then you have to show up at the recording studio. There’s no politics or nepotism involved anymore. So, if a song suits a particular singer, only he must sing it.

Working with the gurus
Earlier, my dream was to work with AR Rahman sir. Fortunately, that has been accomplished now thanks to Rockstar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan along with the upcoming Tamil film Maryan. As of now, Vishal Bhardwaj is on my wish list. Although we’ve met during a television reality show, I’ve never sung for him. In the South, I’d love to work with Ilayaraja even though I’ve sung for his son Yuvan Shankar Raja. So yes, I’m still dreaming and taking one step at a time. 

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