Anup Jalota walks down the memory lane

  • Anup Jalota said, “Solah Baras Ki Baali Umar and Aisi Laagi Lagan were from two very different genres, but they established me as a singer.”

    It was a regular work day at Mehboob Studios. It was the early 80s and Bollywood’s famous composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal, lyricist Anand Bakshi and SwarKokila Lata Mangeshkar were busy working on the song Solah Baras Ki Baali Umar (from the then yet-to-released super hit film 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye', 1981). At that time, music director Madan Mohan Kohli’s daughter brought along a young man in his 20s to the studio saying that he wanted to witness a song recording. That man was the son of respected bhajan singer Purshottam Das Jalota, Anup Jalota.

    “I knew that Lata Mangeshkar was recording a song there and I went over to see her. Once she was done with her recording, she left and I too prepared to leave. Then, Laxmikant-Pyarelal stopped me saying, ‘Arre rukiye, chai peeke jaiyega (wait, you must have tea with us)’. And then they asked if I would sing two lines for the song Lata ji had recorded and of course, I agreed. Aur maine do panktiyan gayeen. I sang the doha, ‘Koshish kar ke dekh le dariya sare nadiya sari, Dil ki lagi nahi bujhati, bujhati hai har chingari’, in Lata’s song. After this, the composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal wanted to pay me for my work, but I refused saying, ‘Arre yeh toh main yoon hi aaya tha. Kabhi khas bulaiyega toh gaayenge. (I sang these lines just like that, and won’t accept payment for it. If you call me over to actually sing songs, I will surely do so). There was no looking back then and over the years, I sang many songs with the duo. HVM gave me my first gold disc for this song.”

    It’s been 41 years since then and yet the melodious track still resonates in our hearts. Jalots says, “I got immense popularity for this song as a playback singer in the Hindi film industry and after that, I did a lot of playback singing for Hindi films.” He had many memorable moments later, with the late Lata Mangeshkar, including stage performances, recording studio talks, sharing meals and watching cricket matches.

    When you have been in the industry for over four decades as a singer, there are many interesting anecdotes and stories around you and the same goes for Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota. His evergreen bhajans- Aisi Lagi Lagan, Main Nahi Makhan Khayo, Rang De Chunariya, Jag Me Sundar Hai Do Naam and so many others were played over and over again in many households in the 80s and 90s.

    “Two of my super hits will always remain very memorable to me. One was Solah Baras Ki Baali Umar and the other one was the bhajan I sang after that. It was ‘Aisi Laagi Lagan’. These two songs belonged to two very different genres and had completely different target audiences too. Whlie one was a bhajan, the other was a popular film song! But I was established as a singer with these two songs. These were the benchmark songs of my life,” he says.

    Narrating the story behind Aisi Laagi Lagan, Jalota says, “In 1978, I was having lunch at my friend’s house in New Jersey. When I was eating, his wife gave me a small book. I held it on my left hand and I was slowly browsing that book, turning pages and also eating. At one page I suddenly stopped, meri aankhein ruk gayi. There it was written ‘Aisi laagi lagan, Meera ho gayi magan’. So, while eating, I composed a tune for it and I began singing it. They loved that song.”

    Two years later, in 1980, Anup Jalota got a chance to sing this song at the Hare Krishna Temple in Juhu. “It was a two-hour program and I came back home and forgot about it. After a couple of months, I got a call from a follower of ISKON, who was also a fab recordist. He said that he’d loved the recording and wanted to put it out. I told him, ‘Arre let me at least listen to it’. When I heard it, I felt there was something lacking – it needed a manjira. So then we called an artitse and asked him to dub manjira into that recording. After that, the song seemed to become even better and I told them to release the bhajan. They released a double album instead of a single and then, dusre hi din se ghar ghar mein yehi gana bajne laga. (Every single home had Aisi Laagi Lagan playing). So, I guess this was all in divine order. I had not even recorded it initially and had just sung it at a live program! Maybe God wanted that song to reach every household and wanted that it should not be restricted to just one hall and its audience. Krishna Bhagwan ensured that Aisi Laagi Lagan reached every household.”


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