Pakistan's legendary ghazal queen Farida Khanum has a desire -- she wants to sing for a Bollywood film.
The 74-year-old who has held audiences spell-bound with her unforgettable melodies like 'Aaj jaane ki zid na karo', 'Dil jalaane ki baat karte ho', 'Mere humnawaz' and 'Mohabbat karne wale', has never got a chance to sing for a Hindi film. But she would love to do so now, she says.
'I never playbacked for an Indian film because I have never stayed in Mumbai long enough to meet people and try out something. If I had stayed for a month or two and met people, something would have materialised and someone would have definitely approached me for films,' Khanum told IANS in an exclusive interview.
'But I was always in India only for two to four days, so there could never be an opportunity to meet more people and associate with them for a film project.
'Although nothing materialised in so many years and I still don't get enough time to stay in India for long periods, I still have a desire to sing for a Bollywood film,' said the singer who is in the country after more than two years.
India-born Khanum, known for her full-throated rendition of ghazals, is in the capital for the concert 'Music For Soul II', an initiative by NGO Routes2roots in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
Khanum, who learnt singing khayals (a classical form of singing) from her sister Mukhtar Begum and then legend Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan, broke into the top league of Pakistani singers when she was invited to perform at a concert by the late Pakistan president Ayub Khan in 1960.
Later, she was awarded the country's highest civilian honour, Hilal-E-Imtiaz.
Asked how she feels when performing in India, the singer said that Indians know how to respect and love artists and hence it's always a pleasure to sing on Indian soil.
'Every time I visit India, I can sense music in the atmosphere itself. I have always been thoroughly respected and honoured here and people here have love for music and artists, that's why they call us and that's why it is such a pleasure always to come and perform here,' said Khanum, who performed in Mumbai and Kashmir during her last trip.
'The audiences here always value the talent and art of the artist - when we perform there is pin drop silence. They hear with so much understanding and also appreciate with thunderous applause.'
So what are her future plans?
'Right now there are thoughts of promoting music, so I will be meeting various artists in Pakistan once I go back and have a conference, so that there is easier movement of artists across the border. We are working on that plan,' revealed Khanum.
And what about an album?
'I'm planning something, but nothing is finalised. My near ones tell me that no one knows what happens tomorrow so I should make music and get it recorded so that the younger generation can listen to it even if I'm not there. Lets see when that happens,' she said smilingly.
The May 3-4 concert is being organised to spread the message of peace, harmony and unity between India and Pakistan through music. Artists like Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, Pakistani singer Ziauddin Muhammad and Indian classical and Sufi singer Anita Singhvi will also perform.