To what do you attribute your consistent uninterrupted place at the top for six decades?
I have always believed that god has been kind to me. That's god's truth. No one, not even me, could succeed without god's will and people's good wishes. That's why it's very essential not to tread on anyone's toes. I've never praised myself. But let me do so now and say that to date, I've never wished or done harm to anyone.
I've never harmed other singers' careers. People may not believe me, but I know this to be truth. My conscience is therefore clear. But people have constantly accused me of exercising a monopoly in the movie business.
I've never been able to understand what this monopoly is. I've always welcomed every new singer. If god wills someone to succeed then no one can stop her. I have never wished any one bad. That shows in my singing.
The response to your new soundtrack "Veer Zaara" is unparalleled.
Some critics say neither the late composer Madan Mohan nor I seem to possess the magic that we created 30 years ago. Isn't it a little absurd to have such expectations from us? The music in "Veer Zaara" is targeted at today's generation. We can't be stuck in the past. We've to move on without compromising.
The fly-by-night attitude that has overtaken the industry must stop. In spite of the adverse comments, the "Veer Zaara" soundtrack containing what cynics say are the rejected tunes of the late Madan Mohan is selling better than any of the contemporary stuff.
What do you think of the vulgarity that has seeped into film music through remix albums?
I decline such songs politely, saying I can't do justice to them. Though I must say the songs that I considered vulgar in those days seem like bhajans (devotional music) compared with what's being sung these days! Yes, I've sung naughty songs. But I was very uncomfortable singing "Buddha mil gaya" for "Sangam". I even quarrelled with Raj Kapoor. He promised to treat the song aesthetically. But I never had the courage to see the film.
How do you respond to the all pervasive vulgarity in our cinema?
I must say it's really strange that though I was known to sing sober songs, most of the remixed numbers are mine. "Kaanta lagaa", for instance, had another context when I sang it.
I feel sorry for the girl who was seen in the music video of "Kaanta lagaa". I've heard she's from a decent family. Why wasn't she stopped by her family? Ambition? If she did it with their consent, then god help them.
I struggled hard to get where I am. That's why I am still here.