"I have always stayed away from controversy. For me, my work is all I need as a validation for my identity," Udit Narayan, who turns 68 on December 1, tells Subhash K Jha.
"Have you ever seen my seeking the limelight? I began singing 43 years ago. When I came to Mumbai to be singer, I had no one in the city to give me a helping hand. I got my first song on my own merit, and to my delight, my first song Mil Gaya Mil Gaya was with the great Mohammed Rafisaab in the film Unees Bees."
What does he recall about that first song?
"First songs are like your first love. I remember every detail," he replies.
"It was composed by Rajesh Roshanji. Usha Mangeshkarji was also a part of that song. Very soon, I got to sing with the legend Lata Mangeshkar in, I think, Bade Dilwala. The melody was Jeevan Ke Din Chote Sahi composed by the late genius Rahul Dev Burmanji.
"Later, I got an opportunity to sing many hits with Lataji in Dil To Pagal Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. So you see, I got a chance to work with the greatest musicians very early in my career. Aspiring towards excellence became a habit for me."
Has he stagnated as a singer?
"Music has no limits. After 70 years of singing and being accepted by the whole world, Lataji still wanted to better her singing. I learnt from her that there are no full stops in life. I want to sing better songs with a variety of music directors. I believe in God and myself. I have not forgotten my humble beginnings. I came to Mumbai in 1978 and struggled for the next 10 years," Udit says.
Which are the milestone songs in his career?
"Papa Kehte Hain, of course. I owe my career to that song. Jadoo Teri Nazar in Darr was another turning point, as was Ruk Jaa Oh Dil Deewane in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. I am also very fond of Ghar Se Nikalti Hi from the film Papa Kehte Hain and Chand Chupa Badal Mein in Hum...Dil De Chuke Sanam."
Udit talks about his son, Aditya Narayan: "He's my only son. To have got a son like Aditya and a wife like Deepa is a blessing. Now there is my granddaughter Tvisha. My world is complete."