The magical voice of Udit Narayan has enabled him to deliver unforgettable songs in some of the greatest films in the history of Indian cinema.
The multi-award-winning artist has sung hit numbers for all the biggest leading men of the modern era and helped turn Bollywood movies into blockbusters. He has also worked with the biggest music directors of the modern era and performed delightful duets with the most popular female singers.
Not surprisingly he has also been a huge draw on the live circuit, delivering concerts to eager fans around the world. This month he will be returning to the UK after a gap of 10 years for shows in Leicester and London.
Eastern Eye caught up with Udit to talk about music, his UK tour and more.
You must be proud of your incredible achievements in music?
(Smiles) I would like to thank the Almighty for giving me a good voice, which has been widely accepted by my fans all over the world. I consider myself fortunate to have gotten an opportunity to work with talented music directors over so many years. I am also really thankful to the Indian film industry because Bollywood fans have loved me and my voice. They have always supported me and ultima-tely made me what I am today.
How much do the many awards you have won mean to you?
All the awards are equally important and they mean a great deal to me. They are all special in their own ways, whether it is from the government, Filmfare, MTV, IFFAs, international music accolades and all the others.
How much do you love performing live?
Actually, after putting in so much hard work, I feel good that I have achieved so much love all over the world. What really motivates me is that wherever I go for my shows in the world, I feel so much love being showered on me from audiences. What is extra special at the shows is that fans are from all generations, be they youngsters, my age or from my parents’ generation.
You are returning to the UK this month for shows at De Montfort Hall in Leicester and Indig02 in London.
I always love performing for audiences in the UK. This time, I am coming there after 10 years so you can expect the best from me. It is also very special because I am performing live with my son (Aditya Narayan).
How highly do you rate him as a singer?
(Smiles) What can I say about him and his talent? He is a very young man and since his childhood has been a very good singer. He has spent a lot of time in the UK and he has done a western music course there also. He has done TV anchoring, acting and singing. I think he is doing a great job, but he has a long way to go, so pray for him. I also want blessings from my fans. Their good wishes are everything to us. We are both looking forward to the concerts.
You have an incredible catalogue of songs. Which will you perform in the shows?
Thank you for saying I have so many hit songs, Asjad. The expectations are always really high, but I have been entertaining you all for more than three decades now. Thankfully people love me and my songs. I am performing there after a long gap so will deliver as many of my biggest hits as I can. Of course, I will include many of my signature songs like Papa Kehta Hai from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and the many other songs that everyone has kept in their hearts like the ones from films including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. There will also be more recent ones too. So I am going to sing all your favourite numbers and take requests as well.
Do you prefer to sing slow songs or upbeat dance numbers?
I like all of them. I believe you have to be versatile as a singer, so I have to sing different kinds of songs. By the grace of God and all of your good wishes, I have a variety of songs in my repertoire from different composers. You can expect variety at my shows so there will be my hit songs from films like Dil To Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Gadar and the Oscar-nominated Lagaan. There are so many crowd-pleasing songs and I can’t wait to share them with you again.
Which leading man do you think best suits your voice?
I started my singing career with Mohd Rafi saab. Then I had my big breakthrough with a hero like Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, which was a musical blockbuster. After that I had the opportunity to sing for all the big heroes including Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Veer-Zaara and Swades. I have sung for Salman Khan in hit films including Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Tere Naam. I have sung for many more, so it’s very difficult to choose a favourite. (Laughs) I think my voice is suited to all the superstars.
Do you get nervous before a concert?
You know, I have been performing for so many years now. When the audience is in front of me, I feel they give me energy. I receive so much energy from them, especially from a packed audience. Even if you think about nerves for a split second, it ends quickly when you see the crowd. The audience and I share love between us.
What advice would you give to a new singer?
I think there is no substitution for hard work. You have to be honest, you have to be humble and need the right character and dedication. These qualities are very important for a singer and for anybody else.
What do you like to do when you’re not singing?
Whenever I get a chance I like to do social work. I enjoy that very much. I also like nature.
If you could play a new instrument, which one would it be?
Actually I like all the musical instruments. I can play the guitar a little bit, so maybe I would want to get better at that.
You have done some great duets with female singers. Who has been your favourite?
You know, Lata Mangeshkar-jee is the ultimate. But there are so many other great singers I have sung with, like Alka Yagnik, who is very good. I feel lucky that I have had the opportunity to sing with so many great female artists. But I love singing with the nightingale Lata Mangeshkar-jee the most. In this generation, I feel like I am a really lucky guy. After so much struggle, I got to sing so many songs with Lata jee in films like Dil To Pagal Hai, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Veer-Zaara.
Do you remember the first time you performed in London?
Yes, I remember it very well. The first time I performed there was with Salman Khan and Aamir Khan in 1990. The second time was with superstar Amitabh Bachchan-jee in 1992. The last time was at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005. It was a totally jam-packed show.
Would you like to give us a message for your fans?
I love my fans with all my heart. It is because of them that I have achieved all I have, so I love them all very much. I am looking forward to connecting with my UK fans again after a gap of 10 years. I am coming back this month for two shows in Leicester and London. I am going to sing all your favourite numbers so don’t miss the shows. Please come and enjoy the performances.
Finally, why do you love music?
I love music because music is everything for me. Without music I can’t live and am nothing. I love music and music only.
Udit Narayan and Aditya Narayan are live in concert at Indigo, 02 Arena in London on October 24 and De Montfort Hall in Leicester on October 25. Log onto www.theo2.co.uk and www.demontforthall.co.uk to find out more.