When I am singing for Hridaynath, I am always afraid I will get it wrong. Hridaynath’s music is difficult and I know I must sing the songs exactly the way he wants them sung. He composes music on lyrics and not the other way round. He was Ustad Amir Khan’ disciple. We don’t argue at all, but if I sing even slightly off key or make a mistake, Hridaynath will immediately stop the recording and say: ‘You are singing in front of 10 people here but one day this song will be heard by a million. Didi you have a name and you cannot get it wrong’. The whole family has grown up with this feeling that above all we cannot tarnish our father’s name in music.
Hridaynath is influenced by my father’s music. Baba wrote music for many of the plays that he produced. In fact, the Lekin song ‘main ek sadi se baithi hun’ is based on a composition by Baba.
My brother pays most attention to the lyrics and make sure they work for the film. Naushad sahib also believed in the same principle. They researched the story background thoroughly — and if the film is set in a village, they composed folk-style music to avoid an orchestral sound. He always wrote music matching the mood of the words. When we were recording Meerabai’s bhajans, he first wrote a storyline for this non-film album…Meera is singing in temple..she leaves her home..she becomes an ascetic and so on. He created a story and then composed music. The album ‘Chala Vaahi Des’ was released in 1974. It was greatly appreciated by Gulzar sahib and it inspired him to eventually make the movie Meera