Bhajan singer Anup Jalota believes this particular genre of Indian music, rooted in a sense of devotion, is the “most popular” form of classical music and says attempts are on to make it more “glamorous” for the youth with an “Indian Idol”-like reality show.
“There are 10 to 12 devotional music channels. There is no channel of any other classical music. So bhajan is the most popular form of classical music and is the most accepted form. It’s ‘compulsory music’ as everybody wants to hear it in the morning,” Jalota on the sidelines of the just-concluded Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival.
“Now we are trying to make it more glamorous so more youngsters will join in,” the Padma Shri awardee said referring to his next project, as a judge in Baba Ramdev’s “Bhajan Ratna” reality show that will hit television screens in summer this year.
The “Aisi Laagi Lagan” vocalist graced the Pavitra Sangamam stage at the confluence of the Krishna and Godavari rivers here, in his mellifluous voice, with a select few songs from his vast repertoire of gold and platinum albums.
Jalota, known globally as “bhajan samrat” (emperor of bhajan singing), contended the reality show will be “very serious” in format and, after a series of auditions and eliminations, four out of 325 singers from India will be honoured with the “Bhajan Ratna” title.
“We are doing it in a very, very serious way. It’s like ‘Indian Idol’. It is being held in a grand manner. It will be one of the biggest-ever reality shows. We are planning an orchestra of 100 boys and 100 girls to support those singers. Seven to eight TV channels will show it,” he said.
The son of bhajan exponent Purushottam Das Jalota, the 63-year-old hails from Punjab’s Sham Chowrasi Gharana. The Nainital-born and Lucknow-educated vocalist started his career as a chorus singer in All India Radio.
Asked about the recent social media phenomenon — a Haryanvi bhajan sung by a group of Rohtak students that went viral on YouTube — the veteran lauded the power of social media to galvanise the public to pursue classical music.
“This is what we want, that people of every age should come and sing devotional music, classical music. Devotional music is nothing but classical music. All top classical vocalists sing their khayal and then a bhajan… from Bhimsen Joshi to Kishori Amonkar. They always finish their concert with a bhajan, they never sing a ghazal,” Jalota explained with his characteristic beatific smile.
Jalota’s range is not just limited to bhajans. He renders ghazals with equal grace and finesse. He has also composed music for many Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali films.
Elaborating on the importance of training in the classical form, the key to his success and longevity, Jalota added: “We want more singers to come, young or old, whatever age, and learn proper classical music and sing anything they want, but learning of classical music is very important to stay longer in this field.”