“On reaching the pinnacle, I called it a day”

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Saturday, September 9, 2017

She was all set to occupy the enviable top spot... was being hailed as the rightful heir of the zenith, when she almost stopped singing songs for films and instead began to focus more on devotional songs. She quit singing film songs, when millions were humming her numbers, and when her graph was rising. But she is not someone who lives to regret in life. She is Dr. Anuradha Paudwal... With feet firmly rooted, she has no qualms about not having lived by the rules of the materialistic world. At a time when she was conquering new horizons and winning accolades and on the verge of occupying the number one position, she chose the spiritual world over the material one.

The chartbusters which Anuradha Paudwal is credited with-- transcended the barrier of language, even as she soared on the popularity charts in Kannada, Marwari, Marathi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, among other languages. In Hindi alone, she has sung 8996 songs and has been graced with many a distinct awards, including the National Film Award.

An amiable and a soft-spoken person, with an aura that radiates a deep sense of content- the noted singer and Padma Shri Dr. Anuradha Paudwal was here in Kuwait to perform live, in an extravaganza organized by the Indian Cultural Society on Friday, September 8 at the American International School Auditorium, Maidan Hawally.
She graciously agreed to an exclusive interview for IIK with Dr Navniit Gandhi.

Dr. Navniit Gandhi: On behalf of the entire Indian community here in Kuwait, we, at IIK, warmly and heartily welcome you-- Anuradha ji...
How has been the musical journey so far? Has life turned out the way you must have wanted it to?

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: It has been a beautiful journey so far. There have been a lot of variations... I started off with Hindi film songs, and then sang many songs in regional languages, followed by the era of 90s when the romantic songs ruled the roost and then of course, I shifted towards singing devotional songs which I continue to sing till date... But no matter where I go to perform, people wish to hear those romantic numbers of 90s which are very popular and I do sing for them.
As far as dreams are concerned, to be very honest,- I never dared to dream this big. I came from a very humble background, with there being nobody in the family who had any connection whatsoever with the film industry. I grew up at a time when Lata ji and Asha ji were revered and it was unthinkable that I would be able to find a place in the industry. But it is purely by God’s grace that I have come so far...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Is it true that you did not receive any formal training? Did it prove to be a handicap? Or was it liberating to not remain bound by any formal rules and techniques?

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: Yes, I have not undergone any formal training. I was simply fond of singing from my childhood onwards. It is only after Burman Da called me to sing a Sanskrit shloka in the movie Abhimaan that in the days that followed, Jaidev ji called me and then Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji approached me. Thereafter, I began taking my singing very seriously and began doing riyaaz seriously... I practised hard from then on...

It may sound impertinent but yes, I did learn and practise by myself- while listening to the film songs, Meera Bhajans and the Bhagwad Geeta; I listened to the songs sung by Lata ji and she being an institution in herself, I could gain immensely... I did my riyaaz as per the requirements of the film industry. And yes, as you have rightly put it- there was no binding force. It was quite liberating in a sense but then there are those moments too when the thought comes to the mind that I am not officially trained...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Is it important to be trained? Your children have been trained formally in music/singing...

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: Yes, absolutely... The first thing I did when they turned five and three years old respectively that I placed them under a Guru for formal training. It enhances one’s confidence. I did not then plan and neither did they think that it was going to be their profession as well, but it has turned out to be so. Aditya has tutored under the revered Allahrakha ji, which is a great privilege and absolutely a huge blessing to just be with him. And Kavita too has had the privilege to learn from the great master--Acharya Jialal Vasant.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Does one feel different when the song one is singing is a devotional or a spiritual song? Do you experience different emotions while singing film songs and when singing Bhajans?

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: In my case, even the film songs that I got to sing were very melodious and very emotional and the only difference was that in a film, I was singing for a heroine and on the other side, I was singing for God. There was not much difference in the kind of songs I got to sing. It was not that I got songs on disco beats to sing... Rather, all my songs were soft and mellow. Of course, there were peppy and catchy numbers as well, on which people do dance. Hence, both ways- I have felt satisfied.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: The tilt, however, has been much in favour of devotional songs...

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: It has always been so... In fact, as I mentioned, I started my career in the film industry with a Shiv-stuti–in the film Abhimaan. Thereafter, my first major hit song was Tu mera Jaanu hai-- in the film Hero and before I sang the song, I recited the Gayatri Mantra... And thereafter too, whenever I was singing--whether for T-Series or singing popular songs for films such as Aashiqui, and Dil hai ki maanta nahi –I was always singing a shloka or a stuti or a bhajan along with. Hence, for me, the two paths have always been parallel...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Were there moments when you too stared at failure or disappointment or struggles? How did you cope with any of that?

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: I did not come from a family which encouraged singing in films. My father was strictly against the idea of me singing in films. We are referring to a time- more than forty-five years ago. The inclination was in favour of gaining education. My mother was fond of singing but not ambitious. In fact, her only desire was that before she breathed her last, she wanted to see one song of mine getting recorded. None of us ever imagined that I would become a singer... Hence, I took everything that came my way- very casually and in my stride. I could do so because I did not have any ambition to achieve this or that and hence, the expectations were not there. And when expectations are not there, the disappointments are less. One is rather thankful for even the little that one gets. I took all that which came my way, with a sense of gratitude.

Yet, there are always some moments when one feels a little surprised and even disappointed- as for instance, during the period that followed the success of Hero... That was the only time I expected... I did think then that I would get more such offers since my songs in Hero had become quite popular but it did not happen that way. Even when I got offers, the songs those days (some of them) involved 3-4 artistes and one singer could just get a line or two to sing. It was not much satisfactory. I even approached some music companies and proposed that I wanted to sing bhajans, but they told me bluntly that ‘there is no market for your bhajans’. I was neither being offered romantic film songs, and nor bhajans- and both of these were my forte. There was a bit of disappointment then, and I sought answers from Durga Maa. I told Maa that it is not that I am career-driven and in fact, I do not mind leaving it all... It is not that there is a hunger for success. But I told myself that I will not give up during the phase of struggles... I decided that I would give it all up on reaching the pinnacle but not then...

Thereafter, it so happened that I got many offers to sing in many films and all the songs- one after the other- became huge hits. And then, at the pinnacle of popularity, I called it a day. I decided to shift my focus to devotional music and songs.

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Any project you are currently working on? Any dream you are pursuing or any desire that is still unfulfilled?

Dr Anuradha Paudwal: It is my desire now to record poetry because I feel that people do appreciate good poetry and many a times, it does not find its due place in films. I also have another project in mind- I wish to record the works of Shankaracharya. Let’s see how it goes...

Dr Navniit Gandhi: Of course, it shall all go well... Our heartfelt wishes to you for your well-being and for the success of all the projects you have in mind and for the life ahead...

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, and a freelance writer/columnist. She has been writing extensively for several newspapers, magazines, web-portals and academic publications and has authored five Books, till date.
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Music Lover
Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017

We used to buy T series cassettes for 18 rs . I was a die hard fan of Anuradha and I collected all the songs she sang including some of the remixes of Lata Mangeshkar songs. None is blessed with such a radiant voice. Dil,Aashiqui, Saajan, Dil Hai ke Manta Nahin, Saathi and all those movies. I salute you madam. You should not have stopped singing when you were standing at the peak of your career.

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