Rekha Bhardwaj on recreated songs: ‘People take credit to introduce the younger generation to old songs, which is rubbish’


She has carved a niche for herself and over the years, has been recognised as a singer par excellence. Rekha Bhardwaj, who has always accepted the fact that she has a distinct voice, has delivered hits such as Genda Phool, Kabira, Namak and Darling among others. The 55-year-old singer, who has equally been appreciated for her work in the indie music fraternity, talks about the importance of lyrics and its pronunciation, the culture of covers in Bollywood, and more.


You have always agreed that you had a different voice. How did playback come to you?

Frankly, I never wanted to be a playback singer. I never aspired to be one because of that understanding. My struggles were quite different because of this. I have my roots in Hindustani classical music. I always wanted to sing either ghazals or classical music. But when I came to Mumbai, after my marriage, and after seeing the whole music industry here, I somehow felt that playback can be done. At that time, there were composers like Nadeem-Shravan and Anu Malik who had that ghazal feel in their songs. I knew that my voice is different and I never wanted to be one of those singers who just sing two lines in the beginning like Sapna Awasthi or Ila Arun. I was clear that whatever I do, my individuality should be seen in it.

As a singer, when you do commercial music, how important are lyrics in Bollywood these days?

I would say that lyrics are the most important aspect of a song. In general, when I was learning in Delhi from Pandit Amarnathji, he used to lecture us about the importance of lyrics in classical music. Because in classical, even though the text is just two lines, it holds a lot of significance. These days, in the name of classical music, so many singers don’t concentrate or pronounce the words correctly. I feel, when you understand lyrics and if you pronounce it correctly, then the rendition it takes the song on is of another level.

A majority of the commercial music that we hear these days is all about covers and remixes. As a singer, what do you think of this trend?

I am totally against remixes and cover versions. With these new trends, we are not letting the composers or singers flourish. A tribute is different from a cover. I would not want any of my tributes to be used in a movie. The films are in present and the songs are from the past. This culture gives me an impression that there is dearth of talent in the industry and that they don’t have the capability to compose. It can also be because of royalty. Some companies wouldn’t want to pay to the lyricists or the composers. For them, it is easy to acquire rights of these old compositions. Basically, they are making arrangers the new age composers. The way we present these old compositions today, the original is totally murdered. People take credit to introduce the younger generation to old songs, which is rubbish.

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How do you think has social media changed the dynamics of music and musicians?

We are in a time where you cannot social media. In a way, it is helping so many younger artistes to present their music. But since there are so many out there, it is difficult to bifurcate between good and bad music. There are times where you get to hear some amazing music and there are other times you get to listen to bathroom singers. However, I believe that everyone has their right to express. But one really needs to know where one stands. It is a very thin line and we need to know where to draw that line.

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