Super-singer Arijit Singh in the eye of a storm for his public apology to Salman Khan speaks to Subhash K Jha.
Your fans did not like your public apology to Salman Khan?
I have no regrets about it. I know where my fans are coming from and I understand their concern. But I did what I had to do. This song in Sultan (from the Salman Khan starrer ) which was deleted was very important.
Isn’t every song equally important for you? Why this one?
When you see the film you’ll get to know why it’s so special. And it’s really not just about the song.
Then what is it about?
See, I told everyone associated with the song that they shouldn’t record with me because Mr Salman Khan is not on cordial terms with me.
What exactly happened between the two of you?
I’ll tell you. This was my first awards function. I wasn’t prepared to go for it because I was editing a song for my mentor Pritam-da (composer Pritam Chakbraborty). But Mukesh Bhattji who was a jury member for that particular awards function insisted that I come for the function. And since the Bhatts’ Aashiqui 2 was actually the beginning of my career in Bollywood, I couldn’t say not to him.
I was working for Pritam-da in my casuals and I had a flight to catch. So I went in my casual chappals and clothes to the function. I didn’t realize a lot of people would feel I was insulting the function.
Once you reached the function in your chappals then what?
I was on my seat and very tired. So I dozed off. As you know these awards functions go on for hours. Meri aankh lag gayi. So when my name was announced for the award someone had to wake me up. I know it was wrong. But I was tired and I dozed off.
So why did Salman take this personally?
While I was walking up to the stage they started capturing images in my chappals and casuals. On stage Salman Khan was laughing in disbelief saying, ‘Tu hai winner?’ When I got on stage he asked if I had fallen asleep. In my nervousness I blurted out, ‘Aap logon ne sula dia (you all put me to sleep).’ I immediately bit my tongue.
Is this what has upset Salman?
I think so. I don’t know of any other insult. I shouldn’t have done what I did.
Did you apologize to him?
At that very moment when he handed me the award I whispered ‘Sorry’ into his ear. I couldn’t say more in that function. When I came down from the stage I couldn’t find my seat. So I just started walking away. Salman Sir saw that and commented, ‘Look at this guy. He has collected his award in chappals and now he’s walking away.’ I got really scared and didn’t know what to do.
So what did you do?
That night when I was in my flight I kept thinking about the incident and felt sorry about it. When I reached Kolkata I texted him. He texted me back saying I shouldn’t have gone so casually and I should not disrespect the awards. I was happy he rebuked me as a senior and that he had got the anger out of his system. I didn’t know he was still angry.
When did you get to know he was still angry?
When I recorded a song for the Meet Brothers in Kick. They called me saying Bhai doesn’t want to keep the song. I realized he was still angry and started apologizing again and asking to meet him to apologize personally etc. I told him not to be angry that I was just a newcomer. Then came Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Ussmein bhi aapka gana gaya?
Gaya nahin. I was helping Pritma-da with the music. When a particular song was being considered for me Bhai vetoed it. Pritam-da told me he won’t record any song with me because he might have had to remove my voice. I stopped working on the music of Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Pritam-da. I again apologized to Salman Bhai. I thought time would heal the hurt. I hoped it would be fine in 5 or 10 years. I left it at that.
I was out of Mumbai when I got a call from Vishal Dadlani saying I have to come to Mumbai immediately to record a song for Sultan. I was really excited. I felt Salman Sir has finally forgiven me. I went to Mumbai and recorded the song. It’s an amazing song. Vishal called to say Salman sir also liked the song. I thought everything was okay. I planned to dedicate the song to Salman sir after the release, go to his house thank him, etc. Then I got an SMS from Vishal Dadlani. He informed me my song couldn’t be kept in Sultan. Vishal said Salman Sir had forgiven me. But I couldn’t sing for him.
Why didn’t you leave it at that?
If I hadn’t sung it right I would’ve left it. I asked Vishal Dadlani if I should try to talk to Salman Sir. He said I should. But it wouldn’t change the status quo regarding the song. I kept thinking about the situation. At Nita Ambaniji’s son’s birthday I met Salman Sir. I had left the party when someone informed me that Salman Sir had arrived. I went back. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk to him.
He ignored you?
No, we spoke. I again apologized. He said he was okay and that it was all good. But I could sense the coldness. After the Sultan song incident I tried calling him texted him to not remove the song since I had worked hard on it. I wanted to sing for Salman sir.
What is your thought on the situation now?
I am really hurt. If I had not sung the song well I would have been okay. But there’s no reason for getting it removed. When I was told it was removed I wasn’t in Mumbai. If I was I’d have gone straight to his home. Rather than try to reach him through mutual friends I decided to write my apology on Facebook. I knew it would go viral. It happened in an hour. I knew of the impact of my action.
So no regrets?
No regrets. I have no shame in saying I wanted that song in Sultan. I knew some would misunderstand my Facebook apology. But it doesn’t matter. For me the song is important. And the relation with Salman Sir is important. He has to forgive me some day. I didn’t mean to insult him.