ROOP KUMAR RATHOD tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that if he sings songs in K.L. Saigal’s style today, they would not click and hence he believes in constantly upgrading himself
Tell us something about your new album Teri Justaju!

Teri Justaju the Sufi anthology on Sony BMG is a blend of big Sufi hits from artists like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. A. R. Rahman, Kailash Kher, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Sultan Khan and my song from the film Anwar. Teri Justajoo, which has 14 tracks, is fronted by a brand new track by me called Teri Justajoo (Saaware).

What is the USP of Teri Justaju?
Teri Justajoo (Saaware) is a song about longing. In Sufism, this longing is towards a higher being. This is love in its purest form, sung in search of one’s lover, describing love to be a prayer, a sense of happiness, a sense of oneness with the highest being. What makes the album unique is that it’s not just a regular compilation with previously released tracks.  Harpreet Singh, the son of the veteran music director Kuldeep Singh is the composer of the album. The backing vocals are by Kshitij Tarey who had also done the backing vocals in Maula Mere Maula

What is your first love- singing or music direction?
I like both singing as well as composing music. However I would choose music direction between the two because I have already proved myself as a singer.

You seem to prefer sufiana songs of late. Why?
After the phenomenal reception to my song Maula Mere, I am keen on singing more and more sufiana songs. I realise I have been in search of this kind of music.

After Dhoom Dhadaka, do you have any film as a music director?
After Dhoom Dhadaka, which was my last film as a music director, I am having a few films as a music director like Gajendra Ahire’s Gulmohar starring Sonali Kulkarni which is a bilingual film in Marathi and Hindi, Anoop Das’s Paroksh starring Rituparna Das Gupta, Yashpal Sharma and Divya Dutta in the lead and Ratan Irani’s Devi The Goddess starring new faces.

What is the difference between singer and music director Roop Kumar Rathod?
As a playback singer, I may have a different taste when it comes to singing the kind of songs which I want to sing but as a composer, my songs depend upon the script and the demand of the director. I may even set out to compose even a style of song which I do not like personally. If you remember I had even made Daler Mehendi sing in a style which was not that of mine as a composer in Dhoom Dhadalka. It all depends upon sensitivity. When I compose a song I forget that it is Roop Kumar Rathod who is composing it.

Who among the contemporary singers do you find promising?
Among the contemporary singers of today, I’d lay my bets on Sonu Niigaam, Hariharan, K.K and Shaan. I would say each of them is good in his own way. Each has his own high point. Har ek ka apna alag alag rang hain.

Do you agree that the yester year songs were better than those of today?
It is wrong to say that today’s songs in films are bad when you compare with the songs of yester years. It is human to find fault contemporary numbers and praised the old songs sky high. Take it from me; people will praise the songs of today after ten years though they may not like them when they hear them today. At the same time I’d say that today the songs of K.L. Saigal will not run if I were to compose songs in his style.

How do you manage to keep yourself abreast with the latest trends in music?
I make it a point to study how the singers sing today and decide what style I should adopt because I feel that one has to change one’s style with the changing times if one has to survive in this rat race. I am of the opinion that songs in films will also change according to the changes in the society. At the same time I would like to emphasize that I am not in the rat race among the playback singers today. I believe in constantly upgrading myself

Would you agree that career-wise your progress has been quite slow?
I concede that I have not shot up like a meteor like some other playback singers but am happy that I have inched up my way slowly and steadily as a playback singer right from Angaar which I had sung with Lata didi. It is now almost twenty years since I had made my debut as a singer. Tell me how many singers have managed to sustain themselves? 

You have even acted in a few films!
Yes. I have even acted in films like Koyi Hai, Kitne Door Kitne Paas and My Friend Ganesha. Acting is not my cup of tea but I accepted the offers because they wanted me to play a singer, which I am, in any case, in real life.

Have you recorded any song with your pretty wife Shunali?
Shunali and I have sung three duets in Gulmohar. We are in the process of coming up with an album called Bandish which will have songs which are based on hundred year old bandishs. It will have solo numbers as well as duets by both Sunali and me.

Who are your favorite music directors today?
My favorite music directors today are Ilayaraja, Vishal Bharadwaj, Shankar Ehsan Loy and last but not the least A.R. Rahman

What is your take on remixes?
Any day I would prefer the original numbers when compared to the remixes. I have grown listening to the vintage songs composed by Panchamda right from my childhood. The remixes you get to hear these days are nowhere near the original numbers by any yard stick and lack quality. Though money is quite important for survival, it is not every thing in life. Would you believe it, I have turned down several offers to work on remixes even though I was offered obscene amount of money 

Which according to you are the landmarks as far as your career is concerned?
Though I have given a variety of songs as a playback singer, my song Sandeshe Aate Hai in Border has stuck with me and people today find it difficult to forget the song whenever they meet me. Woh ek gaana hai jo meri zindagi ke saath jhud hi gaya. I am proud of the songs like Sandeshe Aate Hai, Tere Liye and Maula Meri Maula which I have sung for films like Border, Veer Zaara and Anwar respectively.

What is in the offing after this album?
I have sung a 45 minute nazm composed by Pandit Shiv Kumar and arranged by Uttam Singh for Yashji’s music company’s new album Parchaaiyaan which has been written by none other than the late Sahir Ludhianviji. I concede that the ghazal wave has completely ebbed away but I am confident that the good old days of ghazal will come back again.

Any wish you have as a singer?
My selling point as a playback singer is sensitivity. After singing in more than 43 Hindi films till date, including the Sindhi film Pyar Kare Dis, I wish to sing for actor Amir Khan in any film of his.

Which are your forthcoming films as a playback singer?
Among my forthcoming films as a playback singer are Aditya Chopra’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Goldie Behl’s Drona, Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya, Subhash Ghai’s Yuvraaj etc. (SAMPURN)

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