A few years ago, musicians Usha Uthup and Emil contacted a Bollywood singer — one whose name has been synonymous with evergreen melodies — to croon a Malayalam devotional song. Being apprehensive about the unknown language and its ‘tough’ image, the singer initially declined the offer. However, backed by the confidence of Usha and Emil, he rethought about the offer. “Looking back, I am happy that I sang that track 'Kaanan Kothi Ponneesho', which went on to become quite popular,” said celebrated Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu, for whom it was the first Malayalam song. Years later, he has now recorded for the upcoming Malayalam movie 'Samrajyam 2 Son of Alexander' and said it was a fantastic experience.
“I love the movies and music of all South Indian films. As far as songs are concerned, I write them down in Bengali, in my own short hand technique. That helps the right placement of tongue and sounds while singing,” said the singer, who added that he loves to watch south Indian films more than Bollywood movies. “I don’t watch Bollywood movies much, but enjoy the subtitled movies from the south, where story and direction are given the required importance,” he added.
His musical journey started in 1986 in Mumbai. He remembers the making of the movie 'Aashiqui', which has his favourite song ever, 'Tu Meri Zindagi Hai'. “It was initially a music album. Listening to the song, Gulshan Kumar said in jest that a film should be made for them. And thus was born the ever-loved movie,” he said. Did he watch 'Aashiqui 2'? “I did. It is ok, but not as perfect as the first one. Personally, I don’t feel the story is up to the mark and not all songs are great,” he observed.
Talking about the current crop of musical talent, he felt that the encroachment of technology and western influence have affected their skills. “Singers can’t do much about the situation and most of them sound the same. I would say those trying to make it big here should focus on creating an identity for themselves and work hard,” said Kumar Sanu.
Keralites can be proud that his favourite singer is KK, a non-resident Malayali. “He is amazing and versatile enough to handle different styles with élan. Among female singers, Shreya Ghoshal is outstanding,” he added.
The singer said it’s his dream to visit Kerala as a tourist and experience a stay in the house boat. He is currently working on an album, which his fans will get to hear soon. “I love the fact that Malayalam film industry gives equal importance to melodious songs too. I would love to sing more of them,” was his parting shot.