Excerpts from an interview by Shankerji,

By Subhash Tiwari

Music knows no language, said Shanker. Today Ravi-Shankar and others are Westernising Indian Music in a manner designed to make it sell it abroad. Our technique from the outset was to so westrnise Indian music to make it sell. We are popular composers, not Classisists. Though when the challenge is Classical, we can meet it as you saw in ‘Basant Bahar’ which in terms of ‘Prestige’ I regard as our greatest achievement. But our music all along has been attuned to the masses. Otherwise we could not have got the results we did from Mukesh. He is not a perfect singer- it’s very difficult to get him in Sur. But the man in the street is not a perfect singer either and Mukesh has got ‘ a certain something’ that makes him the People’s Singer. As People’s Composers it has been our endeavour to draw the Best out of each Artiste.

Rafi, Talat, Manna, Hemant, Lata, Geeta, Asha, Suman- we have presented them all in the simple straightforward manner that appeals to the lay public. Yes we worship success. We gave chaste music in ‘Patrani, and ‘Amrapali’ but public rejected these films. We felt sorry to see so musch of good work go waste. But we have never denied our public the democratic right to reject our films. At the same time we are Autocratic enough to see that they are left with little scope to reject us! In striking this rapport, judicious westrnisation has been a great aid to us. We have westernized no doubt but in our own style. …..

While talking to Raju Bhartan in this interview, Shankerji played many tunes in his mind which had yet to take shape as songs. Read his description…

“He played on Piano a whole array of new tunes he has ready. It is not easy to testify to the final shape these tunes will take as, with Shanker, it is almost always the words that are written to the tune. “Not that I cannot compose from a pre-written lyric- I have often done so,” he said. “But I have such a variety of tunes in stock that, with a little give and take, the words can be fitted harmoniously into one of them. Shailendra was a pastmaster in this. He understood my needs perfectly. He had the words pat for such tunes as Sajan re jhoot mat bolo and….(some text missing) .. did I know then that it was his ‘swan song’ I was composing!

Sad song or Happy, Shanker does his composing on the piano which he plays rather well. “Do you think you play better than Naushad?” I asked, remembering how the ‘Andaz’ wizard had once treated me to Tu kahe agar on the piano. “How can I play better than ‘Naushad ? said Shanker. “Naushad Saab in his days was great, simply great! What a sense of orchestration he gave to our music! We merely built on it.

Shanker, who started out as a tabla player with Husnlal Bhagatram, learnt much from that duo, whose influence you sense in the interlude music of Jiya bequarar hai in ‘Barsaat’ Shanker is at once a musician and a composer. “All my early composing”, he says, “I did on the Accordion”. This accordion artistry reached a new high in the Aa ja sanam wistful of “Chori Chori”- a film Shanker regards as a landmark in their career.

Composed & Contributed by Dr. Subhash Tiwari ji