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Film music is like fast food says Parveen

Published: Friday, October 12, 2007, 17:06 [IST]

Friday, October 12, 2007

Parveen Sultana was the first Indian to be honoured with the Padmashri award in 1976 at the young age of 23. She also received other awards like Cleopatra of Music (1972), Gandharv Kala Nidhi (1980), Miyan Tansen Puraskar (1986) and Sangeet Natak Academi Puraskar (1999). She is undoubtedly one of the evergreen singers in the industry. As she says, music is Parveen's life. While Assam is her place of birth, the singer believes Mumbai is her place of deeds.

The singer who won over a huge fan following with her song "Hame tumse pyar kitna" from film "Kudrat" in 1980, had in the recent past sung a thumri in Anil Sharma's "Gadar". Parveen is choosy about the songs she sings but puts her and soul into every performance. She has lent her voice to a beautiful love song with a classical touch in Vikram Bhatt's forthcoming film "1920".

Parveen's first step into singing was at the tender age of five. She trained in singing under renowned singer Dilshad Khan, before marrying him in 1975. Her playback debut was in "Pakeezah" when she was just 16. Impressed by her talent at a stage show elsewhere, composer Naushad made her the offer of singing a background track in "Pakeezah". The film changed her life forever. The couple have since toured the world several times performing together at concerts.

Parveen says: "Naushad saab's offer opened my doors to playback singing in Hindi films. "Pakeezah"'s music was a blend of thumri, Mishra pilu and Khamaj ragas." Soon more offers poured in. Composer Madan Mohan signed Parveen to sing in "Parvana". The other composers the singer worked with over the years were Lakshmikant Pyarelal, Shankar Jaikishan and R.D. Burman, who had been Dilshad Khan's classmate in St Xavier's School, Kolkata. Burman even approached his childhood friend to convince Parveen for singing "Hame tumse pyar kitna" in "Kudrat". "He feared that I would turn down the proposal if he spoke to me directly," smiles Parveen. It was only when Khan revealed to Burman that his wife was a big fan of his that the composer spoke directly to Parveen. Eventually, the song won her the Filmfare Award in 1981.

Parveen's found fans amongst the music composers as well. Amongst today's musicians, the biggest fan of Parveen is singer Adnan Sami, who has a collection of all of Parveen's songs, from films to concerts. He got bowled over by her thumri in "Gadar".

Parveen is very particular that the songs she sings should not only be melodious but also have good lyrics. "There are so many singers in the industry today. But I have made it a point to sing a composition only if satisfies me and the audience. I decided on the song "Vaadaa tera vaadaa" from "1920" after hearing just two lines from it. I finished off the recording in less than two hours," Parveen says.

As the title suggests, "1920" is starts off with pre-independent India as the backdrop and the story weaves it way to 2007. "If I get songs like the one in "1920", I would gladly sing every day. Bollywood's music industry was in quite bad shape till some time back. The good part is that young music buffs these days are wholeheartedly accepting traditional songs along with fusion," the singer says.

However, Parveen rues that most music directors who are genuinely talented get put off because of lack of scope to experiment. "For creating scope for good music, the producers and directors must have a good sense of melody, too. What's lacking in songs these days is melody. The GeNext is also fed up with the musical scenario in India. The industry can't get good playback singers from musical talent hunts only. Singers must have a solid classical base," Parveen sums up. The most difficult thing for a singer to do, says Parveen, is to ask her/him to sing his mentor's composition.

The singer believes there are no shortcuts to success and fame. She thinks today's budding singers don't practise hard and reality shows give them false hope of money and fame. Even parents are desperate and push their children a bit too hard. "I request parents to recognize the true potential of their children and encourage them in the right field," the singer suggests.

Never to disappoint her fans, Parveen has stuck to her classical base all through her career as she feels "classical music is the real thing". The difference between classical singing and playback singing is that the singer has to change the voice technique. And although Parveen is still signing select films, she refers to today's film music as "fast food".

Amongst today's music directors, Parveen's favourites are Adnan Sami, Uttam Singh, Ilayaraja and A.R. Rehman. She claims these are the only ones who exploit the voice quality of the singer. She wants to work with them over and over again. Surely, these musicians would consider themselves lucky if Parveen sings for them.

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