"All Voices Sound the Same These Days" - Kumar Sanu (Interview)

By Soumitra Talukdar

Click on Play to watch Kumar Sanu (WBRi Video Interview)

Kumar Sanu - Bengali & Hindi SongsWashington DC, June 22, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) On behalf of Washington Bangla Radio, Soumitra Talukdar talks to the famous singer of Tollywood Bengali and Bollywood Hindi songs Kumar Sanu in a candid and intimate video interview at his residence in Mumbai.

Kumar Sanu's father Sri Pashupati Bhattacharya was a Music Director in Bangla Natok (Bengali Stage Theater) and 'Jatra' (a unique style of Bengali musical theater)  and his mother and sister were also singers. So his up-bringing was in a musical atmosphere in Kolkata.

Kumar Sanu's dream was to become a singer in the Bollywood film industry. He went to Mumbai and started singing in a hotel and waiting for an  opportunity.

His remarkable journey began with a break from the famous singer Jagjit Singh who gave him a chance to sing in an album. After that he sang his first film song with Kalyanji-Anandji's music direction.

Kumar Sanu has worked with many music directors - it was luck and the grace of God that he got to work with so many good songs and also great music directors at the beginning of his career as a singer. After the demise of Kishore Kumar, the owner of T-series, Gulshan Kumar made a ‘cover version’ (remake) album of Kishore Kumar songs sung by Kumar Sanu and it was a super-hit .

Around this time Kumar Sanu sang two songs for Tinnu Anand's1991 film 'Jeena teri gali Mein' (DVD release) of Gulshan Kumar with Babul Bose's (interview) music direction starring Kavita Kapoor, Tinnu Anand, Kunika, Archana Puran Singh, Shammi, Amita Nangia etc. It was a spectacular success and became a platinum disc. After that Kumar Sanu was offered to sing ten songs for another album of T-series. Subsequent to completion of recording and mixing of the songs, Gulshan Kumar approached the famous director Mahesh Bhatt to hear the voice of Kumar Sanu as a new-comer singer who was a hit singer in his company. After hearing out Kumar Sanu, Mahesh Bhatt asked Gulshan Kumar to make a film with these songs.

Thus the songs of Mahesh Bhatt's 1990 Hindi film “Ashiqi” (Buy DVD online) was made and blew away all records at that time and all the songs were massive hits. The melodies are still in the hearts of music lovers . The music directors were Nadeem-Shravan and the star cast included Rahul Roy, Anu Agarwal, Deepak Tijori, Tom Alter, Reema Lagoo, Avtar Gill, Anang Desai and more. Script & direction of the film were by Mahesh Bhatt. Kumar Sanu points out that “Ashiqi” was the first film where the story was written after the songs got  recorded. In Aashiqui, Rahul (Rahul Roy) and Anu (Anu Aggarwal) both have their own problems. While Rahul is angry with his father's second marriage, Anu has run away from an oppressive girl's hostel. When they both meet love happens. But, soon career aspirations cause clashes, as Anu is offered to be a model. Rahul too becomes a successful singer but feels that Anu has helped him and his ego is hurt. Now, with frustrations rising, Anu has to move to Paris for her booming career to further grow.

When Kumar Sanu was asked about his Bengali songs albums or Bengali film songs, he reminisced about his super-hit album "Amar Shilpi Tumi Kishore Kumar" with music directed by Babul Bose. The album still holds the sales record in Bengali audio albums. It was after the demise of legend Kishore Kumar where Kumar Sanu made his “Shradhyanjali” - his tribute to Kishore Kumar - with this album.

When asked  how his name got recorded in the Guinness Books Of World records, he said that he himself doesn’t know how it was possible to record 28 songs within only a couple of hours. On that day he had invited a number of music directors in the studio where he sang about twenty-eight new songs  in a couple of hours. He was in a hurry for a live gig abroad . Kumar Sanu tells us how he usually successfully completes recording a new song within fifteen to twenty minutes.

When being asked how a singer Kumar Sanu became a hero in a Bengali film "Gane Bhuban Bhoriye Debo" he said that it was totally a suggestion from his friends and colleagues to try acting in a lead role in his own production. Thus, the story was based on how a singer became famous after he arrived in Bombay (Mumbai). The story in Bengali draws on his own experience - that is why he became interested to produce the film in the first place.

Currently Kumar Sanu is very busy with his own productions. Ha has made his first Hindi feature films "Utthan" and "Yeh Sunday Kiyun Aata Hai" which will be released soon. His two TV mega-serials in Hindi "Ek Abhinetri" and "Ek Aur Love Story" will be telecast soon. Kumar Sanu’s two Bengali Film music directions so far are Narayan Ray's 2010 film "Besh Korechi Prem Korechi" (Buy Bengali Film DVD in USA) starring Ranjit Mullik, Tapas Pal, Biplab Chatterjee, Anamika Saha, Swarna Kamal Dutta, Anuradha Roy, Sayak, Santu Mukherjee etc. and Tapan Saha's "Amrita" starring Supriya Devi, Victor Banerjee, Labony Sarkar, Biswajit Chakraborty, Kanchan Mullick, Mainak Banerjee (interview), Raj Banerjee, Smriti Zubin Irani and others which will be releasing soon.

Kumar Sanu is fond of songs with a strong melody. He said that "a bad period" is going on in the field of Indian music now-a-days. It gives him much pain that today's  singers & music directors cannot build up their individual identities. Why cannot anyone recognize who the singer or music director is of a song by listening to  the song ? Before now people could easily recognize the singer from the voice - whether it was Kishore Kumar or Mohammad Rafi or Lata Mangeshkar or Udit Narayan or Kumar Sanu. "Now-a-days all the voices seems to be same", says Sanu.

In case of Music Directors, Panchamda or Nadim-Shravan  could easily be recognized. He also raised the questioning why most of the Music Directors are running after Western.tunes. Our country is very  rich in music. Our music is so rich that western people are  running after our music . They want to enrich themselves adopting our ancient music. We become poorer by disregarding our music and adopting western tunes.

Now-a-days, he said, there is no market for film music. In earlier times, producers got sufficient money from the selling of Music Cassettes or CDs from the Music Companies. Sometimes the whole film budget was recovered from just the music itself. Now there is no selling market and the film producers have to pay  to the Music Company  for say about  fifty lacs to one crore for the release of CD’s and its advertisements.

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