"I was just supposed to play the guitar portions for 'Aditi' song" - Rashid Ali

By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network

His is a name you may not recollect, a face you may not recognize but a voice which you can never forget. He is none other than Rashid Ali who sang last year's biggest hit 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi' from Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na. Rashid who is a Brit-Asian based in U.K. was in Mumbai last week for the Filmfare awards. Bollywood Hungama caught up with Rashid for a musical rendezvous and got to know some really interesting anecdotes about this singer who is all set to take the music industry by storm.

Rashid, you created a frenzy of sorts with 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi'. How did you bag the song?
I've known A.R.Rahman since the last 7 years now. I've done a few concerts with him. I was in India when A.R. thought why not get Rashid to sing this song. Rahman is a guy who makes decisions on impulse and I must add that he has an amazing gut feel about things.

When you recorded the song, did you in your wildest dreams think that it will go on to become such a huge hit?
No never...in fact I was initially just supposed to play the guitar portions of the song. Then Rahman asked me to record the vocals and I just sang it. It all got done in one evening in Chennai couple of years back. I didn't even hear the end product for a long while.

You were singing for a newcomer Imran Khan. What was the brief given?
Abbas Tyrewala was present with Rahman during the recording of the song. Abbas has penned the lyrics so he just explained me the setting of the song which was set in a college campus. He told me that the guy is trying to bring a smile on his girl's face so he asked me to sing the song in a very happy and relaxed way.

Rashid Ali A lot of people feel that you should be the voice of Imran Khan forever. Your comments.
Is it? It feels good to know that but at the same time I believe as a singer one should be versatile and that is what I am trying to achieve.

Not much is known about you, could you share a little bit of your background?
I am a Brit-Asian. My parents are originally from U.K. I was born and brought up there. Even now I am based in London but I keep travelling back and forth between U.K. and India every month.

How did you develop a liking for music?
My mother was a semi-professional singer. Her name is Farida Ali. She used to sing Ghazals. She has worked with the likes of Ghulam Mustafa Khan, so music has always been in my family.

How did you come in contact with A.R.Rahman?
We met at a concert. Rahman had seen me perform and I guess liked what he saw of me. We kept in touch over the years. We also share similar tastes in music. Both of us are keen followers of different genres of music. Shortly after that he was looking for a fresh voice and he touched base with me. I first started touring with Rahman for his concerts

Not many know that you are a lead guitarist...so what is more special to you, singing or playing the guitar?
Yes...I compose and sing. They are both hand in glove. However the singing part always gets more attention and recognition but the guitar is also an integral part of me.

Which was the first song that you sung for Rahman?
I sung a song for a Tamil film with Rahman. I also was a part of Bombay Dreams - the musical. Then I sang a song for Ada-A Way Of Life. However the OST of Jaane Tu released first and the rest as they say is history.

How has it been working with A.R.Rahman?
It's been a long time since I know Rahman. He is a thorough gentleman and a musical genius. He is so well-versed with world music; he is always listening to different kind of music. We hit it off when I was part of his world tour in 2003. Since then he has always been looking for a suitable song for me and when it came to 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi' he decided that my time had come.

Rashid Ali As a kid growing up, what kind of music has influenced you?
To be honest, as a child I wasn't so much into Bollywood music. The people I grew up admiring would be Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, and a lot of jazz guys. I listen to a lot of international music. I have always been open to different kind of music. Over the years I have been also listening to a lot of Indian artists like Ustan Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Parveena Sultan, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd. Rafi

Among the current crop of playback singers, who is your favorite?
There are so many of them. The competition is really tough these days. I really like Sonu Nigam, he has an amazing technique. Sukhwinder Singh has a unique voice too. I have been part of live shows with them. K.K is fantastic and among the female singers Shreya and Sadhana Sargam are great.

Which composers would you like to work with?
Vishal-Shekhar have been doing some great stuff recently. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have done well for themselves too. I know Shankar pretty well, so let's see if I get an opportunity to work with them, I would surely love to.

Besides 'Kabhi Kabhi Aditi', name 3 songs that you wish you had sung last year?
'Khuda Jaane' from Bachna Ae Haseeno is a great composition. I also like 'Mar Jaawan'- Fashion (though it's a female number) and 'Guzarish' from Ghajini

What are your future projects?
I've sung a song in Blue for A.R.Rahman. Then there is song with Sajid Wajid for Ritesh Deshmukh starrer Jaane Kahan Se Aayee Hai. Besides that I have my album which I am busy with.

Yes...you are also releasing your own album this year. Tell us something about it.
Yes...I am currently working on my solo album. Apart from singing, I have also composed the songs for the album. A.R. Rahman is producing the album and it will be released on his label - K.M.Music.

Finally...what do you have to say about Rahman's double Oscar triumph?
Amazing...I still can't believe it. It's truly special. I played the guitar in some tracks of Slumdog Millionaire too including 'Jai Ho' and for the music of the film to fetch an Oscar is an amazing feeling. If anyone Indian musician deserved an Oscar, it's A.R.Rahman. He is a great guy, a good friend and I wish him all the luck for the future.

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