The chief architects of the 90s Bollywood music landscape will join forces on October 18 as they bring alive the utopian, charming songs from that era.
Award-winning trio Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu will perform in the UAE for the first time together at Shaikh Rashid Hall, Dubai World Trade Centre.
“Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment,” said Narayan in an exclusive email interview with Gulf News tabloid!, alluding to the hit dialogue from Vidya Balan’s hit movie ‘The Dirty Picture’, when asked about his upcoming gig.
Narayan, who has sung several of Shah Rukh Khan’s hit songs, isn’t far from the mark. Think of any chartbuster from the 90s such as ‘Ek Do Teen’, ‘Papa Kehte Hai’, ‘Pehla Nasha’ and ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha’, one of these singers were instrumental in its success. These three singers symbolised an era when potty-mouthed lyrics and sexually-charged compositions weren’t embraced.
Excerpts from our interviews with them as we talk about their Bollywood journey, their struggle to remain relevant and those questionable remixes flooding the music scene today.
ALKA YAGNIK ON …
Q: Tell us about your concert on October 18.
A: You can expect a string of beautiful melodies from the 90s. And, since it’s all three of us together — Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and me on — stage, it can be safely said that the entire 90s era belonged to us. Get ready for the hits that dominated that era. We will have a lot of masti [fun] and I promise it will be a rocking show.
Q: What have you observed about Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu?
A: Both Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan have been slow-and-steady in their rise to stardom. We are similar on that front. We have ruled the music scene for over three decades and we are very consistent in our singing. We have that in common.
Q: How relevant are 90s songs and what’s your take on remixes?
A: The 90s was the last era of melodious music because after that period music lost its soul. A whole lot of noisy and experimental kind of music was made after the 90s. Even the music composed now has doesn’t have a soul. I am absolutely against remixes... remixes ruin the original song and it completely destroys it.
Q: Which was the best and the worst remix you have heard?
A: There is no best or worst here. In my eyes, they are all one worse than the other.
Q: What is your advice to upcoming musicians?
A: Remain focused. I have seen many of them become successful initially, but they get carried away due to distractions in life and in society. So their focus shifts from work and they get busy with other things and thus losing the essence of what they are doing.
Q: If you could redo any of your songs, which would you choose?
A: I would probably redo all of them because I feel I could have sung them so much better. I’m self-critical and analytical about myself.
Q: You are an iconic singer from the 1990s, how difficult is it to sustain your success?
A: I have never deliberately tried or thought about sustaining my position because I have just done my work with utmost sincerity. Whatever I sing, I do it from the heart and if it touches people, then you continue to be there in their hearts and therefore sustain yourself.
Q: How would you describe your journey in Bollywood?
a: My journey has been extremely satisfying, fulfilling and a lot of fun. I have got so much of love and affection from people. They have appreciated and encouraged me so much that my heart is filled with all their love. I couldn’t have asked for a better journey and I cherish every moment of it.
Q: Tell us about what to expect from your concert in Dubai?
A: Alka, Udit and I will be performing together in Dubai for the first time. [People] can expect us to sing our hit songs of the 90s. This is the main motto.
Q: How relevant is 90s music?
A: The songs of our times used to be more melodious, not to say that the present day songs are not melodious but comparatively less. However, good songs are still being produced and there are many good singers out there but the priority given to songs, voice and also the heroes coordinating with the songs back then are not there. Music has become the main criteria and the voice doesn’t matter. This is the difference between 90s and now.
Q: What is your take on remixes?
A: Nowadays, people are re-making old songs and that’s good for us because the teenage audiences will get to know who the singer was and who is singing now. It will even be heard by small kids. Everything is positive in these remakes and in the ways the song is rearranged. But I have a suggestion that they should not change the tune or music of the song. Also if [original] singers are capable of singing then the song should be remade in their voice. It will have a better effect.
Q: What is your advice to the upcoming musicians?
A: All they have to do is to put in hard work to build up their identity and work on creating their distinct place in the industry. If they work on these things, they will succeed.
Q: What can you expect from you concert on October 18?
A: 90s was a golden era in music, but today’s music is made per today’s demand. Generations have changed and so has music.
Q: Which was the best and the worst remix that you have ever heard?
A: The best remix I like the most is my own song ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast’. I sang this song years ago and I was called in for the remix too.
Q: What is your advice to the upcoming musicians?
A: Work hard, be patient and have positive thoughts. Be honest towards your music too.
Q: How difficult was it to sustain your success?
A: It’s difficult to attain success in Bollywood. But once you get it, it’s even more difficult to sustain. It calls for a lot of hard work and sincerity.
Q: What’s a perfect song in your eyes?
A: It’s a difficult one to answer because all songs have a different charm to it. But prefer a song such as ‘Papa Kehte Hai’ because it has a positive message.
Q: If you could redo your song, which one would it be?
A: While I have tried my best to deliver all my songs to the best of my ability, I would redo all my songs if I am given that opportunity and if I am not satisfied.
Q: How do you look back on your journey in Bollywood?
A: In our struggling days, there were no platforms like you have today. Nobody could have struggled for ten long years from 1978 to 1988. I have struggled and knocked from door-to-door. Finally with God’s blessings, I got a break in ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’ in 1988. Since then, the good wishes of my fans have spurred me to sing for all the superstars. In fact, my recent song ‘Jugraafiya’ from ‘Super 30’ has become very popular in 2019.
Kumar Sanu on the film ‘Aashiqui’ and its hit songs sung by him:
“‘Aashiqi’ was an album which was originally named ‘Chahat’ and it had very good songs. Mr Mahesh Bhatt [director] heard these songs and said I will write a story on this and we will make a movie. This is the story behind ‘Aashiqui’. He put the songs in various parts of the movie and whatever happened next is in front of you guys.”
Going down the memory lane with Udit Narayan …
Papa Kehte Hai (from ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’): “This was my first major break in a film that turned out to be a huge blockbuster.”
Main Yahaan Hoon (from ‘Veer Zara’): “Yash Chopraji used to love me and gave me many songs, but this one has always been special for me. Its music was composed by the late Madan Mohanji and lyrics by Javed Akhtarji. And the highly respected Bharat Ratna-conferred Lata Mangeshkarji came to my house for the first time to congratulate me for this song and that was the biggest compliment for me.”
Pehla Nasha (from ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’): “It’s one of the best compositions in Bollywood with some of the best lyrics. It’s also one of the best choreographed songs that talks to the youth and all age groups. It’s romantic too.”
Dil To Pagal Hai (from ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’): “I have always been pampered by Yash Chopra ji, the king of romance. Singing along with Lata Mangeshkarji gave me some unforgettable moments in my life.”
Don’t Miss It:
What: Legends Forever featuring Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu
When: Friday, October 18
Where: Shaikh Rashid Hall, Dubai World Trade Centre
Cost: Dh125 and above