In 2007 Adnan Sami had the rarest of rare opportunities to collaborate for a Bollywood song with the great Pandit Jasraj.
Adnan who is in Munich shared memories of the historic confluence . “It seems like just yesterday. I’ve known Pandit Jasraj and his daughter Durga for nearly 30 years. I remember when I introduced the piano into the classical musical idioms the purists frowned at me. Only Panditji approved and approved heartily. We remained close since then.”
The opportunity to work with the maestro of Hindustani classical vocals came for a film directed by Vikram Bhatt.
Recalls Adnan, “I was to compose music for Vikram Bhatt’s 1920. There was the situation for a song that needed to sound ‘period’ and yet it was to have a deep connectivity with contemporary listeners. Panditji was ideal for that song. He had that deep connect with the past and present.”
Adnan remembers going to Pandit Jasraj’s place with a beating heart. “If he said no to my song I’d be devastated. But why would he say yes to a film song? Anyway I played the tune for him and he said, ‘Achcha hai achcha hai’. Did that mean a yes or a no? Durga said it meant yes.”
That moment when Pandit Jasraj arrived for the recording is embedded in Adnan’s heart and mind. “I had given the tune to Panditji , so he was already familiar with it. But what he did with my tune was beyond my imagination. Panditji turned a 5-minute composition into a 40-minute non-stop recital embellished with the most stunning improvisations. I asked the sound engineer to just keep recording. It was a historic occasion.”
But the best was yet to come. “After the recording the production assistant came forward to pay him. He refused! ‘How can I take money to sing for my son?’ he asked. I had tears in my eyes back then.I’ve tears in my eyes now as I think about that moment when Panditji said this was the only time he had sung a proper love song in a Hindi film. I cherish that song and the one that Lataji sang with me in Lucky as the two biggest achievements of my musical career.”