Rekha Bhardwaj is a lovely person. The kind that will constantly message you apologizing for being late for your telephonic interview because she has lunch plans and got stuck in traffic. It’s a Sunday and you really want to speak to her, so you drop everything else you are doing when she calls. The preparation for the interview is little – there’s an upcoming Sufi festival and she is performing at it. It’s a short interview and you have five questions read, all related to her journey with Sufi, which began with her first album Ishqa Ishqa in 2000.
Then she calls and talks to you for an hour, refusing your requests to call her back.
She may have some beautiful numbers (how soulful is Phir Le Aya Dil?) in Bollywood films but there’s a downside. “Bollywood has become very big and everyone wants you to do something from it. so, even if I’m doing a show that’s pegged on Sufi or classical music, moment you go on stage, after three songs you get a request for Genda Phool,” she says, laughing. “I don’t mind because there are elements of Sufi in all my songs.”
It was but natural that our conversation would turn to Gulzar saab. She considers him her master, her guru, her guide and everything in between. “Earlier, just after I was married, whenever he came over, I used to stay quiet. He would just greet me. I would serve him chai and listen to the two of them talk. But over the years, our relationship has changed,” she says.
“I am fortunate that most of my songs have been written by him. His lyrics are poetry so 60% of my work is already done,” she says. If there’s one song of theirs that he asks for, it is Dil Hoom Hoom Kare and Abhi Mujhe Koi. “He loves my singing.” Then again, who doesn’t?
She even sang a few lines of Phir Le Aya Dil to me and I was in raptures. On a separate note, can every interview of mine end with someone singing to me?
My full interview is here: Sufi with Rekha Bhardwaj