I spent an hour with one of the leading female singers of late sixties, Sharda Rajan, at her Mumbai residence interacting about her musical journey. She is full of life, and is busy with some of her ongoing assignments in India and abroad.
It was in the year 1966, when Shankar Jaikishan gave a youngster the break for a couple of songs in their famous movie album Suraj. Among them “Titli Udi” became a rage in those days that was equally popular as “Baharon Phool Barsao” of the same album sung by Mohd. Rafi. This placed the new singer on a high pedestral, and she was none other than the legendary singer Sharda Rajan. Sharda remained a mainstream leading female singer for quite a few years in Bollywood which was dominated by Lata Mangeshkar and her sisters during that time. To her credit Sharda has sung many cabarets, folk songs, retroes, romantic solos and duets and even traumatic sad songs. Later she switched over to the role of a music composer and trainer, and has remained active in her successful career spanning more than four decades.
She was eloquent while speaking about her music and the songs she sang for her principal composers duo, Shankar and Jaikishan. Pointing at Mohd. Rafi and Noorjahan as her favourite voices before she started her high-profile singing career, she was candid while admitting how Raj Kapoor gave her the opportunity to come into Bollywood and how she had to work constantly on Hindi diction due to her strong South Indian accent. She was also upset about one of her scores being taken off from the much celebrated movie, Mera Naam Joker; she claimed the particular score was truly a collaboration of the composers duo Shankar and Jaikishan.
Talking about different factors that affect a song in a movie including its wide acceptance, she emphasized on the variations. “Voice should be capable of being both slow and fast paced. On the other hand, unless the actors or visuals change, all the songs will sound the same,” she opined.
Having won Filmfare Award twice for singing, she recounted how stalwart like Rafi asked her about the meaning of word Bakma in a song of movie Shatranj. She was overwhelmed by the modesty of one of the greatest singers of the country. On the other hand, she expressed her unhappiness while speaking about the present era which she termed as more enthusiastic in business-terms where awards and talents go for a toss.
When we parted with and I was driven back to my hotel, I was feeling elated about the singer who once materialized some of the immortal tunes of the greatest composers Shankar and Jaikishan.