Composer Lalit Pandit one-half of the popular Jatin-Lalit duo who composed the hit Aati kya khandala song in Ghulam in Aamir Khan’s voice, spoke to me about the song’s genesis.
Says Lalit, “There is an incident that I want to share with you. There was huge set of Ghulam at Film City an entire mohallah had been constructed on that set.We were all going to see the set.All of us, Aamir, director Vikram Bhatt, my brother Jatin and I were squeezed into one car.We were planning the music on the way to the set, when I heard Aamir humming a song…Sagar jaisi aankhon wali yeh toh bataa tera naam hai kya from Ramesh Sippy’s Sagar. I liked the texture of Aamir Khan’s voice.”
That’s when the idea of Aamir singing for Ghulam came to Lalit. “I suggested to him, ‘Why don’t you sing a song?’ Aamir though I was joking. He replied, ‘Arrey kya yaar! Main kahan gana-wana ga sakta?’. But I insisted. ‘No, Aamir your vocal texture is so mike-friendly. We can compose a song that will suit your voice.’ He agreed.
Lalit and his brother Jatin realized what a responsibility it was. “To have Aamir sing was no small thing. His fans would expect something special. During those days we had got quite a few stars to sing for us, like Govinda and Sanjay Dutt. Salman also was keen to sing. Shah Rukh Khan was also a part of a song in Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. Director Vikram Bhatt loved the idea of Aamir sing.”
But the question was, sing what???? “Since Aamir’s language in Ghulam was of a Bombaiya tapori like Rangeela we decided to compose a song accordinglyAamir was excited but cautious. He said, ‘Please compose something suited to my range and taste. I will sing it only if I am convinced it’s good for me.I don’t want to end up making a hash of it.’ We assured him that the song will be first approved by Aamir. We kept discussing all the details of the song on the way to Film city, for example the hero was a tapori, so he won’t sing poetry…we kept discussing the possibilities. After the visit to the set that night we got down to composing the song. The next morning director Vikram Bhatt was on the phone as excited as can be he couldn’t get over the fact what a sensation Aamir’s singing would be.Everything else was put on pause.”
Now began the search for the perfect tapori song for Aamir. Says Lalit, “We just couldn’t get the right lyrics. In Ghulam Nitin Raikwar was an assistant. He came up with the idea of Aati kya khandala.He is very talented and lively. We composed a tune and asked Nitin to write the lyrics. Nitin came up with Ae kya bolti tu.”
In the meanwhile Mr Perfectionist was getting ready to sing. Recalls Laltit. “Whenever Aamir would drop in to discuss the song Jatin and I would make him sing any of his favourite songs so we would know which notes he was comfortable in. We discovered he was okay in 4-5 notes. The higher notes, he avoided. I made a note of Aamir’s range and composed the song within that range. If you listen again to Aati kya khandala you will see it is more talk than sing. It was more about attitude than singing.It’s not about gayaki but about Aamir’s range.:
The tune was a smash-hit in the Ghulam team. “When we played the song everyone including Mukesh and Mahesh and Vikram loved it. Aamir liked it too. But he said he will sing it only when he was fully comfortable. His okay was the last step.He made us promise that no one in his family would get to know that he was singing for Ghulam, as they never thought of him as much of a singer.Aamir consented to give us time to rehearse the song with him but the appointed time had to be according to his convenience. Aamir was very busy, so were Jatin and I. Aamir would come very late in the night to rehearse for the song,around midnight and then we would rehearse for around 90 minutes with the perfectionist each night.”
It was then time to record the song. “When it actually came to recording the song, Aamir sang the whole song in just 30 minutes. I am not kidding. He was that prepared after rehearsals. And can you believe he was nominated for a Filmfare award for singing??!!”