FLASHBACK | 8 September, 2023
(From our issue dated 12th September, 1998)


It was a normal week.

Maharaja has not lived up to its majestic title and faced a steep fall in collections from mid-week. It is, however, good in East Punjab, some stations of U.P. and Rajasthan. 1st week Bombay 30,46,719 (70.29%) from 10 cinemas (6 on F.H.); Ahmedabad 6,60,169 from 6 cinemas, Vapi 2,62,806, Rajkot 1,56,424, Jamnagar 1,37,876; Pune 9,25,206 from 5 cinemas (1 in matinee); Delhi 34,76,207 (56.93%) from 11 cinemas (1 on F.H., 1 unrecd.); Kanpur 3,22,439 from 2 cinemas (1 unrecd.), Lucknow 2,74,680, Agra 2,50,000, Allahabad 1,50,625; Amritsar 60,365; Calcutta 13,95,333 from 13 cinemas (9 on F.H.); Nagpur 5,25,060 from 5 cinemas, Jabalpur 1,33,390, Amravati 1,61,428, Akola 1,20,000, Dhule 1,21,209, Raipur 1,16,014, Durg 77,894, Jalgaon 1,41,735; Indore 1,64,498 (5 on F.H.), Bhopal 3,18,130 from 3 cinemas; Jaipur 8,39,901 from 4 cinemas, Bikaner 2,17,852; Hyderabad 26,80,132 from 12 cinemas, share 12,87,600 (2 on F.H.).

Mere Do Anmol Ratan is disastrous and collects unbelievably low. 1st week Bombay 10,06,220 (37.49%) from 7 cinemas (1 on F.H.); Delhi 1,89,088 (29.80%) from 2 cinemas; Kanpur 37,769, Lucknow 53,246, Agra 90,380; Calcutta 1,44,706 (other cinemas unrecd.); Nagpur 29,888 from 2 cinemas; Bhopal 52,827 from 2 cinemas; Hyderabad 4,24,462 from 6 cinemas (3 in noon).



G.S. Entertainment’s Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya entered 25th (silver jubilee) week yesterday (11th September) at Metro (matinee), Bombay. The film, directed by Sohail Khan and produced by him jointly with Bunty Walia, stars Dharmendra, Salman Khan, Kajol, Arbaaz Khan, Anjala Zaveri, Kunika and Kiran Kumar. Music has been scored by Jatin Lalit, Himesh Reshammiya and Sajid-Wajid.


Akira Kurosawa, Japan’s topmost filmmaker, who put his country on the world map, died in Tokyo on 6th September. He was 88 years old. Kurosawa is the only director who has won two Oscars for the best foreign film, apart from a lifetime achievement award presented to him at the Oscar awards ceremony in 1990.

He began his career in 1936, hoping to use his skills as a painter, for films. He switched over as an assistant director in the same year, with the film Senman Choja. In 1948, he made Drunken Angel with actor Toshiro Mifune with whom he had a life-long association. Mifune died last year in December. Kurosawa shot to international fame in 1951 with Rashomon, a medieval murder tale which broke new cinematic ground by using different narratives to tell the same story from four points of view. He made 30 films of which The Seven Samurai, Drunken Angel, To Live, Run and Rhapsody In August are the best-known. The last-named film was made in 1991 and starred Richard Gere. His last film was Madadayo, made in 1993. This film marked the 50th anniversary of his film career.


West Bengal distributor Prabhakar Suvarna (Anubhav Films Enterprises) expired on 8th September in Bombay due to kidney failure. He had undergone heart bypass surgery a few days back, after which his kidneys failed. He was 52 years old.


The grand success of the home videos of Titanic, released last week in the U.S., was believed to be a foregone conclusion. However, it is not widely known that this success is also partially due to a company called Deluxe Video Services Inc., which was entrusted with the job of making millions of copies of the film on video cassettes. Hundreds of employees of the company worked very long hours so that the required number of video cassettes could be made ready by the deadline. That their efforts have not gone unnoticed can be judged by the fact that Paramount arranged for a continuous and free showing of Titanic for the hard-working employees of Deluxe Video Services Inc. Thus the film was played continuously round-the-clock in all four break rooms at Deluxe, thereby making their employees feel suitably rewarded for a job well done.


Pranlal K. Doshi was elected president of the Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association of India for 1998-99 at the first meeting of the newly elected executive committee held on 11th September in the Association office. A.D. Chaphalkar was elected deputy president, Vinod H. Kansagara, vice president, and Gunvantrai N. Desai, hon. treasurer.

Earlier, at the 52nd annual general meeting held the same day, the following other members too were elected to the executive committee: Suresh Choksi, Nitin Datar, Soli Arya, Yunus Aghadi, Sharad Pai, Kanhaiyalal Navandhar, Suryakant Patil, D.F. Hodiwalla, Rashmi Bhalodia, Ulhas Joshi, Rajendra Jain, Nester Desouza, Rahul Haksar, Russ Balaporia, Prashant Vartak, N.F. Damania and Vimal Doshi.

V.N. Borawake, Manoj Khivasara, Ismail Patel and Govind Khoont were co-opted to the committee.


A total of 17 members will contest in the elections to the executive committee of the IMPDA in the Ordinary Class. Of the 17 members, 12 are sitting members and five are new contestants. The sitting members standing for re-election are Ayub Selia, Balkrishna Shroff, Devendra Shah, Guru Shenoy, Haresh Bhatia, Kantilal Mehta, N.N. Sippy, Ramesh Sippy, U.A. Thadani, Tolu (Vashdev) Bajaj, Vinay Choksey and Vinod Kakkad. The five new persons in the fray are Abid Zaffar, Manoj Khivasara, Pradeep Singh, Sanjay Chaturvedi and Tekchand Anchal.

There will be no election in the Associate Class as there are no fresh nominations in this category. Therefore, the three sitting members viz. Indravadan Shah, Mohan Susania and D.Y. Pattani will be elected unopposed.

The executive committee has a strength of 15 — 12 in Ordinary Class and three in Associate Class. Elections will be held on Tuesday, 22nd September at Birla Kreeda Kendra, Chowpatty, Bombay.


The last date for filing nominations for elections to the executive committee of the IMPPA is 14th September. The elections are scheduled to be held on 28th September at ISKCON, Juhu, Bombay.


Several members of parliament (MPs) attended the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the I & B and Communications ministries, in Bombay on 11th September. From the film industry, Santosh Singh Jain, Sultan Ahmed, Shakti Samanta, K.D. Shorey, Pappu Verma, Rajender Singh Hora and others attended.

The industry representatives explained the problems plaguing the industry viv-à-vis the CBFC, government, cable pirates etc. Speaking to Information, Santosh Singh Jain said that the meeting was “fruitful”.


Yet another glaring example of how a change in the political scenario can change the government’s tune towards important issues is the following. Reportedly, the U.P. government has put the plans of building a Film City in Dehradun in cold storage. Chief minister Kalyan Singh had two months back promised a delegation of the film industry that the government would provide land for the purpose, ostensibly being carried away by the central government’s decision to grant industry status to films. But now, he is reported to have developed cold feet over the project, thanks mainly to the fact that the demand for a separate statehood for Uttaranchal region in the state is fast gaining ground. It may be mentioned here that Dehradun is an integral part of Uttaranchal and hence if a separate statehood is granted for the region, the U.P. government will not be able to gain any mileage out of the Film City.

The film industry has been hit hard by this change in the governmental attitude towards Film City, for, the project was perceived as one which would be able to provide an ideal environment for filmmaking. Fresh locations, safer environment and the site’s proximity to both, Delhi and Lucknow, made the proposed Film City in Dehradun a perfect choice for producers. But now, embroiled in a political wrangle, the project seems to be doomed. Much to the dismay of the film industry, we may add.


Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has announced a single-window system for granting permissions for shooting Telugu films in the state. Speaking at a meeting with a delegation of the Telugu Film Producers’ Council on 7th September, Naidu promised to take a number of remedial steps to help the Telugu film industry come out of the present crisis. He said that a uniform fee of Rs. 1,000 would be charged for hiring a location to shoot films. Moreover, he said, the government would levy uniform charges for the use of government guest houses and motels by film producers, actors and technicians.

Naidu also assured the delegation that stringent action would be taken against those indulging in video and audio piracy, and, if need be, the government would suitably amend the Cinematograph Act or bring in fresh legislations. The CM assured the delegation that he would look into their demand for subsidies and entertainment tax exemption for small-budget films.

The meeting was attended by the Andhra minister for home and cinematography, A. Madhava Reddy, and chairman of the Andhra Pradesh State Film Development Corporation, Murali Mohan, among others. The Telugu Film Producers’ Council delegation was led by its president, Dasari Narayana Rao.


Veteran writer, producer and director Tejnath Zar passed away in Bombay at Sushrusha nursing home at Shivaji Park on 10th September after a brief illness. He was 73 and is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter.

Having begun his career as far back as in 1952, when he joined producer Nanabhai Bhatt as a writer, Tejnath Zar will be remembered for his simplicity and humility. After setting up his own concern, Zar’s International, in 1956, he produced films like Khoj, Tajposhi, Shahi Mehmaan, 24 Ghante, Chaalis Din, Reshmi Rumal, Naqli Nawab, Vachan, Garam Khoon, Sardar and Anokhi Chaal, apart from directing Chaalak.

He also had a long association with producer-director Jugal Kishore who had nearly all his films written by Zar. Another distinction to Tejnath Zar’s credit is that three of the most prominent villains of Hindi films turned heroes with films written by him. These villains were Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna and Amjad Khan, who gave their maiden performances as heroes in Sabak, Nateeja and Dada respectively.

Some of Tejnath Zar’s recent works include writing five-six episodes for B.R. Films’ popular TV serial Kanoon, made a couple of years ago. Moreover, he had been the honorary general secretary of The Film Writer’s Association for the last two-three years and also an executive committee member of the IMPPA. He worked selflessly for the Association.

Zar’s chautha will be held on 13th (tomorrow) between 4.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. at Arya Samaj Hall, Santacruz (W), Bombay.

Leaderless Opposition Defies Jain’s Ruling Panel

As expected, the CCCA election heat has caught on in C.P. Berar and C.I. in just the same way as it had been generated a while ago in Rajasthan (reported in our issue last week). Hectic activity is on at a feverish pitch to form panels — basically, there will be two panels viz. the ruling group panel, headed by CCCA president Santosh Singh Jain, and the opposition panel. The opposition panel, though, has no leader. However, C.I. distributor O.P. Goyal may well emerge a leader of sorts of the opposition candidates, such is the force with which he is opposing the ruling group of Santosh Singh Jain.

In C.P. Berar, exhibitor Munshiram (of Jeet cinema, Bilaspur) will be contesting this year from the opposition. His supporters feel that the Chhattisgarh-Mahakoshal region has long been ignored as no member from this region has been taken on the executive committee. Munshiram, therefore, will represent this “long ignored” region and may get regional support. Laloo (N.D.) Kabra’s nomination is another one which is creating quite a stir in C.P. Berar. Although a sitting member, Santosh Singh Jain is contemplating excluding his name from his panel and, in his place, taking in G.E. Naik, manager of Mihir Pictures, Bhusawal. Jain’s anti-Laloo stance stems from two facts — one, according to Jain Saheb, Laloo, despite being a committee member, supplies prints to SMR cinemas and thereafter takes the plea that he hasn’t supplied the prints; secondly, Laloo had promised to make a deferred payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the producer of Bhai (which he distributed in C.P. Berar) and Jain had stood guarantee for it, but instead of making the payment within four weeks of the film’s release, as promised, Laloo delayed it by some weeks. On his part, Laloo says that a number of distributors supply prints to SMR cinemas but Jain Sahab is singling him out. As regards the Bhai payment, Laloo insists that he had not promised to make it within four weeks. “Otherwise also,” he says, “I did make the payment, so why should Jain Sahab be angry?”

In C.I., distributor O.P. Goyal is heading the opposition group. Among the other likely opposition candidates are Sunil Chowdhry and Jaiswal (of Kanchan Shree Talkies, Jaora). According to Goyal, “The elections this year will be one of the most fiercely contested. We, the opposition, have decided to oppose Santoshji tooth and nail.” The anti-bandh lobby may well vote in favour of the opposition to give vent to their sentiments.

In the meantime, Santosh Singh Jain is not spilling the beans about who will and who won’t be included in his panel. In his characteristic diplomatic style, he told Information that he would be able to decide on his panel only after a couple of days. But he gave an indication that Naik would come in place of Laloo Kabra. In Rajasthan, Baba Ramdeo, Kishinchand Janiani and Rajendra Mamoria may be the new opposition contestants. Reportedly, Rajendra Mamoria is prevailing upon members of his territory to come to Nagpur to cast their votes.

The last date for filing nominations for the elections is 12th September (today). The elections will be held on 27th, and annual general meeting, on 26th.


A reception committee under the chairmanship of Dilip Singh Tuli was formed for the organisation of the 45th annual general meeting of the Central Circuit Cine Association on 26th and 27th September in Nagpur at the Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande Hall. Vijay Kher and Prashant Rathi are the vice chairmen. The other office-bearers and members of the committee are S.B. Patil, secretary, K.K. Sawhney, treasurer, B.M. Diwan, joint secretary, S.A. Sorathiya, public relations officer, K.G. Sarda, R.P. Sharma, Pramod Munot, Dr. Bhiwapurkar, Raju Khanduja, Prakash Ramrakhiani, Praneet Singh and Milind Naik.

Among the distinguished personalities expected to attend the annual meeting are some artistes, besides ministers of Maharashtra, like Pramod Navalkar, Narayan Rane, Nitin Gadkari and Anil Deshmukh.

It may be mentioned here that it is after six years that the annual general meeting of the CCCA is being held in Nagpur. The 39th AGM was held in Nagpur in 1992 when Anil Kapoor and other stars and some singers had attended the meeting. Over, 1,200 members are expected to attend the meeting this year.


Vedprakash Mendirata on 11th September resigned from the presidentship of the Indore Film Distributors’ Forum. His resignation has reportedly been accepted.

According to reliable sources, there were differences between Mendirata and some members of the Forum, which led to his resignation.


With the Madhya Pradesh bandh from 17th September a certainty now, the direct effect of the closure is likely to be seen in the attendance at the annual general meeting and the elections of the Central Circuit Cine Association on September 26 and 27. The turnout for the double event in Nagpur is expected to be large this year, not just because there is likely to be a fierce fight between the ruling group and the opposition but also because exhibitors of Madhya Pradesh will have a lot of free time on hand. Since cinemas will be closed, exhibitors might as well use the opportunity to attend the AGM and also cast their votes. Distributors, too, will be comparatively free as there will be no new releases from 17th September.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The silver lining to the dark cloud of the bandh is that the voter turnout at the elections of the biggest and the strongest film trade association may well be heavy.

Amidst Protest From Indore, Ujjain Trade
Madhya Pradesh Cine Trade Gears Up For Indefinite Closure From September 17

Despite a strong opposition from distributors and exhibitors, mostly of Indore and Ujjain, the Madhya Pradesh cinema closure from 17th September is now a certainty. Cinemas all over the state will down shutters for an indefinite period.

Even as a signature campaign was carried out in Indore and Ujjain, urging the CCCA president to call off the proposed bandh, the Amravati film trade on 11th September unanimously decided to support the bandh call of the CCCA and, at a meeting held under the chairmanship of CCCA vice president Vijay Rathi, even passed a resolution to that effect. It was also resolved that no distributor would supply prints for screening to exhibitors in M.P. from 17th. It was also agreed that distributors would telegraphically inform exhibitors of the state to stop screenings of films from 17th September.

CCCA president Santosh Singh Jain will visit Indore next week to take stock of the situation and to impress upon the several dissenting members of the Indore and Ujjain trade the need to observe the bandh for the larger interest of the trade. Except for Sapna-Sangeeta, Alka, Premsukh and Praful cinemas of Indore, the entire exhibition sector of Indore and Ujjain is said to be unhappy with the proposed bandh.

The stage, therefore, seems to be set for the Madhya Pradesh cinema closure from 17th September. The CCCA has given the call for an indefinite bandh in protest against the anti-industry stand of the M.P. government. So blatant has the apathy towards the film industry become that the M.P. chief minister, Digvijay Singh, refused to meet a delegation of the M.P. film trade on 1st September when the industry observed a day’s token bandh and again on 2nd September.

The industry has been pressing for various demands, principal among them being reduction in entertainment tax, check on cable piracy, allowing cinemas to levy a tax-free service charge on every ticket, granting industry status to films, as done by the central government, simplification of procedure for issuance and renewal of cinema licences, and reduction of power tariff for cinemas.

With the bandh in M.P. a certainty now and with the CCCA having asked its members of Rajasthan and Maharashtra belt of C.P. Berar to also show solidarity by not releasing new films on and from 17th September, it is unlikely that there will be any major releases till the bandh is called off. Even otherwise, there weren’t too many big films scheduled for release on 17th or 25th September. Bandhan, earlier due on 25th, has now been postponed to Oct. 2, that is, if the M.P. cinemas reopen by then.

Although it is hoped that the bandh will be called off by 2nd October at least, the entire release schedule of the forthcoming weeks is uncertain and will remain so till the bandh begins and a clearer picture of the state of affairs in Madhya Pradesh emerges.

Cinemas Will Be Entitled To Rebate Of Compound Tax During Bandh Period In M.P.

Since a number of cinemas in Madhya Pradesh pay compound tax and since compound tax is to be paid on a weekly basis in advance, there is a fear in the minds of many exhibitors of the state that they would have to bear the burden of the compound tax even though their cinemas will be closed indefinitely from 17th September.

But a legal opinion, sought by the Central Circuit Cine Association (CCCA), which has given a call for the indefinite closure, breaks this myth. Advocate Rakesh Jain, in his legal opinion, has said that closed cinemas will be entitled to a rebate of the compound tax paid if the cinema proprietor gives an intimation of the closure of his cinema to the Excise Commissioner, Deputy Excise Commissioner of the Division, Collector and the District Excise Officer within 24 hours of the closure. If such an intimation is given, the proprietor shall be entitled to proportionate rebate in his weekly instalments after he submits an application to the Collector in this behalf.

Thus the relevant condition is that such an application must be made within 24 hours to the concerned authorities and the application for rebate must be made to the Collector in this behalf.

Under sub-rule 4(g) of rule 16 of the Madhya Pradesh Entertainment Duty Rules, instalments of advance compound tax is payable by the proprietor irrespective of the number of shows held during the week and he shall not be entitled to any refund or rebate on account but there are certain exceptions. One such exception is contained in sub-rule 4(I) of rule 16 which says that the proprietor of a cinema may close his cinema under intimation to the concerned authorities within 24 hours of the closure.


What happens to Mani Ratnam after Dil Se..?

– Mani can still make a Hindi film but it is unlikely that anybody will pay him the kind of price they paid him for DIL SE…

With films like Satya, China Gate and Kaun? being made, does it mean that a different genre of films is also getting financial backing?

– Yes, it does mean so. Not just the financiers, audiences too — at least in cities — are beginning to appreciate the new kind of films.

How long do you think will the Madhya Pradesh cinema bandh last?

– God and M.P. chief minister Digvijay Singh alone know it. Or may be, even they don’t know how long the bandh will last. With elections due in M.P., the government has to give reliefs before the election code of conduct rules come into operation. That is, if the government is in a mood to help the industry.


* The dispute between producer Naraindas Mukhija and Gopal Bharatiya, the Bihar distributor of his MAHARAJA, was finally resolved last Saturday. The latter, alongwith another distributor, took the film’s delivery.

* CCCA president Santosh Singh Jain has denied a statement attributed to him in a gossip trade paper, that artistes, who did not attend the anti-cable piracy rally on 18th August in Bombay, should be fined a lakh of rupees each. According to Jain, “I did not say that the artistes should be made to pay a fine of Rs. 1 lakh each although I did mention that the absence of most of our stars was heart-burning.”

* Yet another clarification comes from producer N.N. Sippy, who is shooting  his SILSILA HAI PYAR KA in Switzerland. The same trade gossip paper reported — falsely, of course — that Karisma Kapoor had fallen ill in Switzerland, which had upset the entire shooting stint. The fact is that Karisma was ill for just one day, after (and before) which the shooting progressed so marvellously that Sippy and his director, Shrabani Deodhar, will manage to wrap up the schedule on 13th September — a full three days before time! Guess, for the gossip trade paper, it’s silsila hai desperate jhooth ka!


* Producers of several old films are going crazy, trying to get their films re-certified for telecast on Doordarshan. Even though they are prepared to accept cuts for ‘U’ certificate (DD telecasts only ‘U’ certificate films), the CBFC has refused them certificates on different grounds such as superstitious theme, excessive violence and sex. Among the films refused certificate this year are JUNOON, BHAI, DO RAHA, KAGAZ KI NAO, INSAAF KA TARAZU, JAAGRUTI, MAA, PATI PATNI AUR TAWAIF and KSHATRIYA.


Days Of Chocolate Heroes Again

The days of baby-faced heroes all over the world are returning with the unprecedented success of Titanic and its chocolate-faced hero, Leonardo DiCaprio. For the last decade or two, tough guys of the screen like Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Jackie Shroff and Sunil Shetty in India, and Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis in Hollywood were the ones who attracted women the most. But with the arrival of Leonardo, the scale has gone down for good-looking tough heroes. Researchers in Britain and Japan were recently testing the belief that the most feminine of women and the most masculine of men were seen as the most attractive. But they found that while people in general preferred faces of women that were more feminine, men whose faces were not really rugged were also seen as the most attractive by both the sexes.

Big Film, Big Controversies

Vashu Bhagnani’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan seems to be making news, not always for the right reasons. C.I. distributor Ashok Tolani had appointed the Advanis of Shri Bableshwar Films as sub-distributors for the territory. But the latest news is that the Advanis have relinquished the rights in the film, reportedly because of a dispute over its price. Naaraaz miyan! In the meantime, the Delhi high court will hear Delhi-U.P. distributor Bedi’s matter in the Bade Miyan Chote Miyan case on 14th September. But there’s also a move for an out-of-court settlement.

Hoarding In Rajasthan? No, No, No!

Rajasthan distributors would do well to take note of this . All films, of which hoardings have been put up in Jaipur before release, have failed to create a mark at the box-office. Examples: Jeans, Kareeb, Satya and Dil Se... It may be noted that putting up hoardings of due-for-release films is a recent phenomenon in Jaipur. Years ago, a huge hoarding of Saawan Kumar’s Sanam Harjai had also occupied a pride of place in the pink city. But its collections saw the distributor of the pink city in the red.

Producers, Distributors In Same Boat

With the continuing spate of films bombing at the box-office all over India, the film industry seems to be heading for a massive cash crunch, worse than the one prevalent today. The situation has become so bad that not only have the distributors suffered heavy losses, even producers have begun to be affected severely by the flopping of their films. A leading Bihar distributor, who is known for his acerbic wit, was recently heard summing up the situation thus: “Pehle, sirf distributors ke makaan bikte thhey, par ab to producers ke makaan bhi bikne lage hain!” So, producers and distributors are now sailing in the same boat. Or rather, sinking in the same boat!


“There are a lot of people who still savour the misconception that I only sing in those films, audio rights of which lie with T-Series. This isn’t true.”



Date: 20th July, 1998. Venue: United Nations Headquarters, New York. Occasion: The presentation of the Cultural Ambassador In Music Award. This, perhaps, marks the greatest day in singer par excellence. Anuradha Paudwal’s illustrious career so far. For, she became the first ever Indian to have been presented this award. While receiving awards is nothing new for the talented singer, this one must surely hold the pride of place in her vast and ever-increasing collection of trophies and awards. “More than anything else, it was an immensely emotional experience,” she says, while reliving the moment. “Tears of joy began rolling down my cheeks the very moment they informed me about the award.” Considering the fact that the famous Carnatic vocalist, M.S. Subbalaxmi, has been the only other Indian who has performed in front of such a distinguished gathering (she did it in Geneva), Anuradha Paudwal’s feat seems to be no mean achievement. And yet, she remains unflinchingly modest in spite of the accolade, as we found out during our chat with her.

Beginning her career way back in 1973 with a minuscule rendition of a shloka in Abhimaan, Anuradha Paudwal has traversed great distances in her musical journey so far. Hero, Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka, Dil, Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Sadak, Beta and, in the recent past, …Aur Pyar Ho Gaya, Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi and Aflatoon are only a few of the films her voice has left a mark in. Moreover, her long association with T-Series has resulted in a vast number of devotional and ghazal albums in which she has lent her voice. In a chat with Information, Anuradha Paudwal clears a number of misconceptions about her, apart from baring a few important facts about herself.


It was a very fascinating experience for me mainly because, here in India, you don’t even imagine performing for, let alone being honoured by, such a select gathering of people, and that too, in New York! It was an extremely emotional experience, too, as it makes you feel wanted and reassured. While at the function, I realised for the first time how well my work in the last 25 years or so has been appreciated. Prior to this, I had some idea that my work could reach a large number of people, but what I saw at the U.N. was completely unexpected for me. For one, there were about 20-odd women from various countries around the world, who had come all dressed up in saris to welcome me! As if this were not all, they even recited a few Sanskrit shlokas! Later, I performed some of my bhajans and a few devotional pieces at the function, and was pleasantly surprised when they gave me a standing ovation. People do show a lot of respect here in India, but when the foreigners show such high respect for your work, it is extremely touching.


I never ever thought that I would end up singing in films. I come from a family that has absolutely no background in films. Though my mother was very fond of singing, my father wasn’t. He and my sisters were more academically inclined. So, eventually, it was my mother who really encouraged me to continue singing. She hoped that some day, I might even get to sing in a film! Later, when I was offered to sing a shloka in Abhimaan, I for the first time began thinking seriously about becoming a playback singer. Incidentally, my career in films began with a shloka, just like the first time I faced the microphone….I had sung Shivstuti then. Anyway, after Abhimaan, I began to find the work very challenging. Just about then, a ballet was being made, the music for which was being composed by Pt. Jasraj who asked me to sing in it. During that time, I started learning music from him, and later, from a few other distinguished teachers of Hindustani classical music. Soon, I began getting a few offers for songs in more films.


Well, I think my shloka in Abhimaan was my biggest break, for the simple reason that it is remembered even today. In fact, I still get a farmayish for that shloka almost every time I perform at shows. Its popularity continues to amaze me, especially considering the fact that it hardly lasts half a minute or so on the screen. I guess, people seem to remember it after so many years mainly because it comes at a very crucial juncture in the film. Anyway, after Abhimaan, there came Doooriyaan, Kalicharan, Saajan Bina Suhagan and a few others. Later, I began getting some more films where all I got to do was sing a line or two here and there. You see, that was the time when a lot of male-dominated films were being made. Most of these films had almost all their songs picturised on their heroes. Even in musicals like Amar Akbar Anthony, a female singer didn’t have much scope to display her talent. This dismal phase in my career lasted till Hero came along, or so I thought. I had two full songs in the film, which became quite popular. Yet, my career didn’t seem to take off. It was only when my songs were consistently becoming popular with Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka, Jeena Teri Gali Mein and Aashiqui, that I became established as a singer in the true sense of the word. It took me over fifteen years to get there.


Like I said, when my career didn’t seem to take off in a big way even after Hero, I began to become disillusioned with the industry. So, I thought of bringing out a private album of my own. Very soon, I produced an album called ‘Durga Saptashati’ and began making the rounds of various music companies. I was completely taken aback when they told me that there was absolutely no market for my voice! Finally, I took the album to T-Series which readily took it up together with another album that I had done, called ‘Manache Shlok’. Both the albums did extremely well and later, Gulshanji asked me, ‘Why are you going through the hassles of producing your albums? Why don’t you let us do it for you?’ I liked the idea very much. He also said that the company will promote me as well as it could, except — and he asked me as a request — that I would not do private albums with any other company. I immediately agreed and that was it. There was nothing on paper — only a verbal agreement between Gulshanji and me, that I will not cut any private albums with anyone else. I agreed simply because here I was, 15 years in the industry and still being told that there was no market for my voice. Then comes this person who says, ‘I’ll establish you… just that I request your exclusivity.’ So, why shouldn’t I have taken up that offer? And in any case, I have never had to regret the decison ever in my life.


One thing that I had admired about T-Series was the way they marketed their albums. For the first time, songs were being brought to the people in a big way. I still remember when Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka became a hit, people asked me, ‘arre, yeh hai kya? Film, video, ghazal, or what?’. Similarly, Gulshanji was, perhaps, the first person in India who thought of making videos to promote music albums. I was very hesitant when he asked me to appear in a video of my private album a long time ago. At that time, he had told me that it was okay if I didn’t do it then, but sooner or later, music videos were going to be the order of the day and that it would be very difficult for me to refuse appearing in them. To think of it, he said this when nobody was making videos in India and there were no satellite channels except DD-1 and DD-2. Anyway, I agreed and soon enough, music videos became a part and parcel of a singer’s job. For me, appearing in videos has helped a lot in the success of my albums. I achieved popularity with all kinds of listeners. Morever, thanks to the videos, people can now identify my voice with my face.


Success comes only after being consistently good at doing something. When an artiste gets his/her type of songs consistently, only then does his/her voice become established. In my case, the popularity of my songs in Hero did not establish me simply because I wasn’t consistently getting my type of sogs for two-three years after that. It was only when Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka, Jeena Teri Gali Mein, Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Sadak and Beta happened in quick succession of each other that my voice became established.


It is like you said, hyped. There is nothing of that sort, in reality. See, I believe that you cannot have rivalry with someone you don’t know. I do not know Lataji well as I have hardly met her a couple of times. So, there is no question of rivalry between us. In any case, Lataji is a great singer and one of my favourites. So, I really think that it is the people and the media who/which created this myth about our rivalry by misrepresenting certain things that I had said.


There is no doubt in my mind that the Indian public, by an large, would like to hear me sing film songs, apart from the devotional ones. Even I used to think that the popularity of devotional music can never match that of film music. But, after being to the U.N., I am extremely delighted that they chose to acknowledge my work in the field of devotional music and not in films. Even the citation they presented me with bears only the names of my devotional albums and not my films! So, this reassures me as it means that I haven’t really been on the wrong path all along. Moreover, I think, it is all pre-destined. If I was heavily into films, I wouldn’t have been able to do the entire Bhagvad Gita on tape as it requires a lot of concentrated effort. I have also been able to perform large collections in Sanskrit like Saptashati (which comprises as many as 700 shlokas). This kind of work takes up a lot of your time and energy as it is extremely vital to be mentally attuned to do it. You just cannot do it when you are too busy running from one studio to another. Anyway, all said and done, I have again begun singing in films of late, but the irony is that there are a lot of people who still savour the misconception that I only sing in those films, the audio rights of which lie with T-Series. This isn’t true. I am open to singing for all kinds of films, irrespective of who brings out their audios.


There are a lot of good offers coming my way of late and one may look forward to hearing my songs in films like Khauff, Khubsoorat, Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya and many more.