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The Jatin Pandit interview: Tracing the journey from ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ to ‘Fanaa’ and more

Whenever somebody would list the names of the most iconic composers in the Hindi film industry, Jatin-Lalit’s name would definitely find a mention in it. Together, the composer duo delivered several memorable songs from 1992 to 2006. Jatin Pandit teamed up with brother Mandheer in the ’80s and then, delivered unforgettable music for some of the most iconic films in the history of Hindi cinema like ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ (1992), ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ (1995), ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ (1998), ‘Mohabbatein’ (2000), ‘Fanaa’ (2006) and more. In this exclusive interview, Jatin Pandit talks about his journey in the film industry, shares some rare trivia and ponders over some wonderful memories.

Not too many people know this but you have worked with the late Mohammed Rafi.

Yes, Working with Rafi saab was like a blessing from God. To see him lend his voice to songs composed by me was surreal. Though we were very young and new into the industry, he made us feel extremely comfortable. We recorded four songs with him for the film ‘Dil Hi Dil Mein’ (1982). I also got the opportunity to work with Kishore Kumar in the film ‘Wafaa’ (1990). The song was called “Yeh Sach Hai Ki Jeevan Mein”. Then, I got to work with Lata ji in the ’90s in several films like ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ (1995), ‘Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota’ (1998) and ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’ (2001), among others.

Mandheer-Jatin with the late Mohd. Rafi at the recording of their first song. Photo Credit: Provided.

While everybody knows about your pairing with your brother Lalit, not many are aware of the fact that you worked with your elder brother Mandheer in the ’80s.   

I have always spoken about my partnership with my brother Mandheer. Not many people mention it as we were not very successful as a duo. We did three films and a couple of devotional albums together. One of my favourite songs “Tere Bina Jiya Na Lage” was composed during this period. The song was sung by my sister Sulakshana Pandit. We struggled a lot during this phase.

Then, you teamed up with your younger brother Lalit in the ’90s. How did that happen?

Lalit expressed his desire to team up with me. We spoke to our parents about it. They did not want Lalit to get into music as they had seen our struggle but eventually, they gave their blessings and allowed him to work with me.

Jatin-Lalit. Photo Credit: Supplied.

People often compared Jatin-Lalit’s style of music with R.D. Burman. Were you upset with the comparisons?

Not at all! It was an honour for us to be compared with a legend like R.D. Burman. I was a disciple of him and recorded several songs for him as a choral vocalist when I was a child. I grew up watching him record so many iconic songs. I learnt a lot from him.

Unlike other popular composers of the ’90s, Lalit and you did not market yourselves aggressively and maintained a low-profile. Despite delivering such huge hits, you never won any major award.

It is not true that we did not believe in marketing but probably, we did not know how to do it. Our focus was completely on our music and work. We never ran after publicity or marketing. I guess that is how we were as individuals. We were nominated seventeen times for the Filmfare Award but we never won. I have no regrets as by God’s grace, we always had the support of our listeners and we continued to deliver popular music.

Is there any Jatin-Lalit album which, you think, should have reached out to more number of people? I have a few in mind – ‘Vaade Iraade’ (1994), ‘Bada Din’ (1998), ‘Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan’ (1999), ‘Raja Ko Rani Se Pyaar Ho Gaya’ (2000).

I feel fortunate that most of our songs became hits. Yes, there were a few albums that did not do very well because they were not marketed properly. But, I have no regrets. Some songs did not become popular because the film did not do well but later, they went on to become hits.

‘Vaade Iraade’ (1994) was such a good album. I was listening to it recently. I think it is the only time you collaborated with S.P Balasubrahmanyam.

Yes, it is the only time we worked with him on a Hindi film. We recorded with him for a south film. I am not sure if it released.

You are also a singer and have sung a couple of your compositions like “Ak Dil Mera Kanwara” (‘Bhai Ka Dushman Bhai’), “Rooth Ke Humse Kabhi” (‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’), “Yeh Dil Deewana Hai Mera” (‘Vaade Iraade’). Do you wish you had been more active as a singer?

I was very much interested in singing but I was so occupied with my work as a composer that I could never really focus on it.

You have composed the music for so many iconic films. Is there a film you regret missing out on doing?

We had to say no to a lot of big films because of our busy schedule. We believed in giving our hundred per cent to a film when we were working on it. I remember we were offered ‘Lagaan’ (2001) but we could not do it because of date issues.

Your son Raahul Jatin just made his debut as a singer and composer with a single recently.

Raahul has worked very hard and has a very honest approach towards music. He has a very good voice. He is also interested in acting. I would love to collaborate with him on a song if a good opportunity comes along.

Whom do you like from current composers?

I really like the work Ajay-Atul and Pritam are doing.

There was a time when we would wait for the cassette or the CD of a soundtrack to arrive in the market. Now, everything has gone digital. How do you look at this change?

Change is always good. We must adapt ourselves to change. Every five years, there is a major shift in the music industry. Merging yourself with the changing times is the only way to survive. Trends will come and go but music will continue to live.

Since your split with Lalit, you have been working as a solo composer. There were a couple of good songs in ‘Say Yes To Love’ (2012). What are you doing next?

I am working on an interesting film at the moment. It is a biopic on a big actress.  

The music that Lalit and you made together gets discussed on social media every day. What would be your message to your fans?

I want to thank them for their love. I feel fortunate that people miss our music. These days, a couple of songs become hits but they do not stay in people’s mind for a long time. The kind of music we have done will be remembered for generations to come.

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