Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya likes to talk straight without mincing his words. Here’s Abhijeet talking on a wide range of topics – Bollywood mafia, nationalism, and his singing journey.
Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Shah Rukh Khan
At one time, singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya sang several hit songs for Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan – Chaand Taare, Badhi mushkil hai, Tumhe Jo Maine Dekha, Chalte Chalte, Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaaun, Tauba Tumhare Ye Ishaare, and Zara Sa Jhoom Lu Main among others.
The last film in which Abhijeet sang for SRK was Om Shanti Om (2009).
Abhijeet mentioned on a few occasions that he stopped singing for Shahrukh because of an incident, after which his downfall started.
“It was a very small reason I stopped singing for Shah Rukh Khan. In Main Hoon Na, they showed everyone from a spot boy to everyone else, but the singers. My family saw the film and felt betrayed. The same thing happened with Om Shanti Om. And here I am… Shah Rukh Khan’s voice! I conveyed my disappointment to Farah Khan and Shah Rukh Khan” said Abhijeet Bhattacharya in an interview.
Abhijeet Bhattacharya felt he could have just said a simple sorry, and he would have started singing again. When Shah Rukh could make up with Farah Khan, whose husband tweeted rubbish about Khan, then there should have been no problem with a simple man like him, questions Abhijeet.
However, that did not happen.
“I made superstars with my voice. Till the time I sang for Shah Rukh Khan, he was a rock star. When I stopped singing for him – and I stopped singing for him – he came down to Lungi Dance.” says Abhijeet.
Abhijeet on Banning Pakistani Singers
Desh mein kuch hi log hain jinhone kadam uthaya. Modi ji ne Article 370 khatam kia, Bapu ne desh ke liye itna kuch kiya aur ek Abhijeet hai jisne industry mein rehke kulhaadi pe paon mara. Log aaj bhi uski roti sekte hai. Jab Pakistani aate hai toh unke khilaf unka naam aaye newspaper mein, islie kuch log todh phodh karte hain. Ek garib ka taxi todh dete hai lekin Pakistani ka camera nai todhte.
Main ye aaj se nahi bol raha. Ye 90s ki baat hai. Main tabse bol raha hoon.
I don’t have a problem with Pakistani. In fact, we should learn patriotism from them. India mein khaate hain aur Pakistan jaake apne desh ka naam alaapte hain. Main unko kyun bura bolun jo apne desh ke lie acha bolte hai. Maine aajtak kisi Pakistani singer ka naam nai liya. Main unka naam lunga jinhone yaha breeding ground bana rakha hai.
Salman Khan ne ek apne singer ka gaana replace kark ek Pakistani singer se gawa diya. Woh unke aage Twitter pe haath jodh raha hai. Sonu Nigam ke khilaaf fatwa jaari hua, sirf main khada hua uske liye.
Unke good books mein rehne ke liye Arijit Singh ka gaana Pakistani se gawa dia. Himmat hai toh mujse gana gavaao aur dub karke dikhao.
“I read somewhere one of the gentlemen, one of our colleagues working with us,… He started writing some really strange things to my colleagues, Bhatt Saab and Karan… He used to work with us. We love him…singer…He writes some really strange stuff, and then…’Mai sach bolta hun’. No, no. ‘Saying it like it is is’, being rude… You’re mistaken. And it’s sad. Then I find people retaliating,” said Shah Rukh after Abhijeet had lambasted filmmakers Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt for their criticism against the blanket ban on Pakistani artistes in India.
Bollywood mein sirf ek main hi deshbhakt hoon. Name one person in Bollywood who has spoken against Pakistan. All of them will raise voice against terrorism, but not Pakistan.
Abhijeet talks about Swachchta, nationalism, singing journeyON SWACHCHTA MISSION’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE
Safai ek mentality hai. Hum log jahan rehte hai, hum wahan ki nahi sochte. Hum sirf apne chaar diwari ki baat karte hai. Baahar kude kachre se andar aayenge, usse koi fark nai padhta. Hamare desh mein sabse badi safai toh abhi kuch der pehle hui hai – Article 370. Isse badi aur kya safai ho sakti hai?ON CHANGING ONE THING ABOUT INDIA
I am a proud taxpayer. 10 saal Mumbai mein bhookha raha aur fir us kaabil bana ki tax pay kar saku. Tax department mein safai ki zarurat hai. Sabko tax dena chahiye. Soch badalni chahie. Taxpayer ko priority deni chahie.ON BREAKTHROUGH SONG
Zindagi mein jaise jaise ek gaana aaya, ek naya modh aya. RD Burman ne mujhe break diya, fir career mein break laga gaya. Baaghi se mujhe asli break mili.
Us time gangsters aur exortion kitna faila hua tha. Ek gangster jo jail mein hai abhi, unka call aata tha ki agar paise nai de sakte toh ye gana suna do. Dubai mein party mein chal rahi hai, speaker pe sab gaana sun lenge.ON ANGER
Woh ek expression hai. Aap jise gussa kehte hai, main use dard kehta hoon. Rona tab aata hai jab apne deshwasi, apne desh ko chhodhke dusre desh ke gunn gaate hai.ON NATIONALISM
Learn nationalism from Pakistan. Mujhe kya pata nationalism kya hota hai. School mein nikal jaata tha jhanda khareedne aur bharat mata ki jai karta tha. Kya iska matlab nationalism hai?
I organise one of the biggest Durga Puja pandals in India. Mere lie Durga Puja ek dharm nahi hain, mere liye vo ek festival hai.ON FLUSHING OUT ONE THING FROM INDIA
I want people not to leave their parents alone when they are old; I want children to be with their parents. I think only Modi jo can bring this rule.ON BEING SIDELINED IN BOLLYWOOD
I was Yashraj’s favourite singer. But ever since, I have raised my voice against Pakistan, I have been sidelined. Main aaj reality shows mein islie nahin hoon kyunki maine is mudde pe baat uthai hai.
Music Career: How did it take off
Interested in music from a young age
I was only interested in music and from a young age, I would play several instruments. From Class X, I started singing for Chatterjee Orchestra and supported myself. By the time I was in college, I was even contributing at home. From the beginning, I have always done everything with a lot of planning and I had one dream that I would give my parents the life a star’s parents have.
Initial days in Mumbai
I knew a sound person, Baitulla Siddiqui, who lived in Kanpur but worked in Mumbai and so I wrote a letter to him telling him that I was coming to Mumbai and landed here. He used to stay in Dharavi; despite the love they gave me, I could not handle the living conditions there and decided to go back to Kanpur.
Later, when my sister got married in Mumbai, I moved in with her for a month, during which I would visit studios of music directors.
Obviously, nothing happened and I took up a small job I got as a store keeper for `365 per month.
I would bunk office everyday in the afternoon to go visit RD Burman’s office and lost my job in the bargain.
Stayed with Ravindra Jain
I knew Ravindra Jain sahab through a neighbour in Kanpur and he was the only music director whose house I used to visit. When I lost my job, I went to him and told him that and he kept me as a helper.
Since he could not see, I was of help to him for his odd jobs like taking him out for a walk at 5 in the morning and lived with him in his house. At that time he was single. I lived with him for a year-and-a-half but it was clear to me that I would not get a break as a singer as Dada did not have confidence in me. But I had learnt a lot by just sitting in his music sessions and by just being in his company.
While I was there, I would often go and meet Pancham da, who along with Jagjit ji, gave me my first break.
RD Burman gave a break despite Kishore Kumar’s era
That time it was impossible for RD burman to approve a new singer. I had visited Pancham da for six months and everyday he would say, ‘Come tomorrow.’ I had decided to go back to Kanpur, finish my studies, take up a job, get married, make my wife sit on the Vespa behind me and take my mother for tirath. Living in Mumbai, I started dreaming of Kanpur.
I went and met Pancham da for one last time telling him that I was going back and that he should just listen to my recording once for my satisfaction before I left. Somehow he agreed. It was a really bad recording, but a johri can judge. Pacham da asked me to stay back for a few more days but did not say anything more.
I had, by now, moved into a Wadala colony, a 25-minute-walk from the station. It was a government chawl and I had no phone, so I had given the number of Major Natkar, who lived in Mahim and was known to help strugglers by taking down messages for them. I would call him everyday to find out if there were any messages for me, but there were none. Fifteen days later, I had high fever that lasted three days, when I did not call Major Natkar.
But Pancham da was trying to reach me. So when I called Major Natkar after three days, he started abusing me as I had not called on the three most important days of my life. My heart sank and for the first time, I took a taxi with whatever money I had and landed at Pancham da’s house. Pancham da had a cook Manu da, who was also his right-hand man and was known to shut the door on the face of strangers, who would often land up there to meet Pancham da.
But this time, when I rang the bell, Manu da welcomed me and said in Bangla, ‘Where are you, yaar?’ I recorded my first song with Pancham da and sang for Dev sahab’s son for Anand Aur Anand, while Kishore da sang for Dev sahab. It was my first duet with Kishore da. I still remember Kishore da telling me ‘Tum bahut sur mein gaate ho.’
misunderstanding with RD Burman
I became very close to Pancham da, but that made people around him jealous and they concocted a story about me to him. They told him that I had sold one of his tunes to his competitor, which, of course, was far from being true.
Later, Pancham da came to know it was not true as, obviously, no competitor had made that song, but it was too late as Pancham da had already distanced himself from me by then. The film did not work and my career finished before it started. My father went into depression and died shortly due to it. He could never see my success. My mother moved in with me after he died and lived with me, till she died. I am still most attached to my mom and even now, when I look back in life, my worst years were the four years I struggled without her in Mumbai.
So did Abhijeet da ever meet RD Burman again after tasting success?
I am the only singer who was discovered by Pancham da. He may have sent me away from him when he was at his peak, but two years before he died, he had no work and his house that was always full of so many people with music, stopped getting its visitors. I was at the peak of my career and would go to Pancham da during this time, as I knew he had no one around him.
He would be sitting in the balcony of his first floor Santacruz flat all alone and would be irritated seeing me. I could see that he did not want anyone to come. This was the time he was doing his last album 1942 A Love Story. There would be just Pancham da, his mother in the inside room lying in a coma and, of course, good old Manu da. Seeing him like that I decided that while I was at my peak, I would secure myself financially and started investing all my money into property that I continue doing till this day.