Harneet Bhullar chats to Bollywood singer Altaf Raja ahead of his UK tour
Being an award winning Bollywood and Qawwali singer, we rarely see you perform in the UK, how does it feel to be here?
I am doing three concerts here in the UK. I have come with a lot of expectations; I have come to the UK after 18 years. I received a lot of love when I came before and I hope I get the same now.
We've not heard from you in a while, you have been off the music scenes, is there a comeback plan?
I have been in different countries concentrating on new albums. I never stopped singing but I have just made a comeback in the UK after a long time. My new song has released in the movie Hunterrr, watch it on YouTube it's called Dil Lagaaana.
Now are these rumours, or am I right to say Altaf Raja is your stage name?
Raja is my stage name, but Altaf is my name. My surname is Mulla. However when I took singing professionally I had to find an attractive stage name and my mum decided to name me Altaf Raja
Who would you say is you’re all time favorite singer, or people who inspired you to sing?
There are so many singers who I grew up listening to such as Mohammed Rafi, latta and Asha ji. They all inspired me to come into the music scene including my mother and father, as they were both Qawwali singers themselves so I had a lot of singers around me, this just increased my love for music even more. I think it runs in our genes.
After how long are you performing? Are you feeling nervous?
I perform regularly just not in the UK so I am very ready for it, not feeling nervous at all. It’s an honour to be back here to sing for my fans because I really love my fans, that’s the reason I am performing here.
Tum to tehre pardesi is probably your number one hit and everyone’s favourite, is that when you realised that your career is on track?
After that album my career had come into the right gear and it allowed me to even go ahead with singing for Bollywood because of the success of the song. There was an amazing response and my journey changed and I thank god for it. The song was not expected to do so well; it was from then on I decided that maybe my singing career would be a hit.
How did your entry into Bollywood begin?
Again this happened because of Tum To Tehre Pardesi, I started getting a lot of Bollywood offers. I never dreamt of singing for Bollywood if I am being honest I was happy being a stage singer but opportunities have been coming to me since then and I thank god again for giving me these blessings.
You have won many awards; tell us a little bit about that, how does it feel?
It feels good but for me the public and the place they have for me in their hearts is more than an award for me. They like my songs, I sing for them and then they clap for me. They are an award for me and I love it. Without my fans I wouldn’t be winning any of these awards.
You also write songs, what do you consider when writing lyrics?
I write some of my own songs, I always believe there should be some sort of message in the topics. Lyrics play an important role, there should be some logic in songs. If it is about love or heartbreak there should be some logic behind it. I have read a lot of poems since I was young so they inspire me when I write my lyrics.
What message would you like to give to all your fans that consider you their idol?
I really do respect their love, and they inspire me to sing more songs for them because they keep my career going and shower love over me which keeps me so motivated. I hope they always shower this love upon me so I can sing for them for years to come and entertain them again and again.
Altaf Raja performed in London, Birmingham and Leicester over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Interview Harneet Bhullar