Saturday, December 7, 2002
T A L K I N G   P O I N T

"I am content singing bhajans"

Vani Jairam, hailing from Tamil Nadu, is one of the busiest artistes in the music circuit even though she may not have scaled the heights of popularity as a singer in Bollywood. Here Vani talks to Bibhuti Mishra about her music and why she did not continue singing for Hindi films.

Vani Jairam: ‘Bole re papihara girl’
Vani Jairam: ‘Bole re papihara girl’

Just one song and you became the Bole re papihara girl, a household name vying for top honours with established stars. You even cornered the Tansen Award. What went wrong after that?

I don’t want to speak ill of anyone. But I would just like to mention with a heavy heart that even in a field as divine as music there are petty jealousies at work... I didn’t get many offers after that stupendous success for reasons that I don’t want to go into. At one time I was only doing B grade and C grade films. I was not called to sing under top banners.


What did you do then?

I was not very badly affected as I am a deeply religious person and I have unshakable faith in God. I shifted to Madras. Offers poured in and I worked with top music directors. There was a time when for nearly three to four years I used to take Sunday flights to Bangalore and return the same day. I sang in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Oriya etc. But when pop music began to rule film music, I lost interest in films. I needed songs with substance.

But it is felt that in the South the songs have more substance than those in the North.

Not necessarily. This so-called modern trend is like a virus that has spread everywhere.

You are a trained classical singer; so why have you turned to light classical?

Music came so naturally to me that I could distinguish between different ragas and notes even when I was a toddler. It came to me perhaps from my previous birth. That is why I have been able to do justice to even the most difficult songs. I underwent thorough training and travelled widely under the guidance of Vasant Desai. I am interested in both classical and light classical. I learnt under the tutelage of Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan and practised for 18 hours a day. I sing ghazals, thumri, dadra, kajri and bhajans. I sing all types but I do not dilute any form. Light classical should not be taken lightly. Even top classical vocalists like Ustad Allarakha, Ustad Rais Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia have performed in films!

Name some people who have inspired you?

Without my husband Jairam’s support, I could not have reached where I have. Then my mother Padmavati and my guru Kadalur Srinivas Iyengar and veteran music director Vasant Desai shaped me as a singer. I also owe a lot to my music directors Salil Choudhury and O.P. Nayyar. They have endorsed my talent despite stiff opposition.

Do you have any regrets?

No , thank God. I am one of the busiest bhajan singers in the country today. Perhaps God willed it that way. I had a bhajan recorded for Guddi but I am yet to be told why it was not there when the film was released. Suffice it to say that a number of my songs have been snatched but I have not snatched songs from anyone. No point brooding over that. I am content singing bhajans.