I had never imagined that I would be in politics or even planned to join it. I was involved in a labour movement in mines. We were partly successful in our campaign. We were able to ensure miners got minimum wages and that they were paid OT (overtime) fees as well. A lot of miners benefitted from our movement. I wasn’t a member of any political party. But as my activities as a ‘mazdoor andolan’ leader expanded in 1989, mine owners viewed my labour activism adversely. They began lodging false cases against me. I then realised the strategic necessity of continuing my activism under the banner of a political party. That’s when I joined the BJP [in 1994].
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At one point, I thought growing up in Mumbai was a great disadvantage in trying to be a Carnatic classical singer. In hindsight, it’s proved a big advantage. I used to take the local trains, where employees of the railways, textile mills, and so on, would sing abhangs – with total faith, with total abandon – all through the journey. It was some of the most amazing music I’d heard. I got interested, and my mother would invite abhang singers home to perform. After all that exposure, I wanted to sing some of that music here, and after a couple of concerts with abhangs, I haven’t looked back.
Motivational Story – Sudha Ragunathan, Famous Vocalist who once wanted to be Gynecologist or Civil Servant
At that point in time I was studying at college and I had the dream of becoming a gynecologist and I chose my subjects leaning towards biology, zoology and botany, physics, chemistry, and I scored well, well enough to be admitted into a medical program, at that point in time was when my professor spoke to me in college and said if you chose to become a doctor then music will take a back seat, and since you have been indulged with a good voice and such a great connect with your audiences I think you should rethink all this and choose to do something else. I thought that was wise enough, so I did, I continued to do my masters in Economics, thinking that I would sit for my civil services exam, but even that got messed up because my mother was very very keen on me taking up music and once I got the scholarship there was a little turnaround in my mind about the thinking about whether this profession would be the right one for me.
My sister Sulakshana Pandit had worked with him a lot. When we were starting out, we didn’t know how to go about our work. She told us to connect with Majrooh sa’ab. Her literal words were, “He doesn’t have too much work and he has time on his hands.” So Jatin and I went to meet him. He was very upset that nobody was giving him work any longer or enquiring after him. We implored him to work with us. He melted. A talented man remains talented no matter how much time goes by. Majroohsa’ab was very happy and in a sense he became a part of our team from there. His guidance was crucial. He would tell us what to do, how to talk to producers, how to engage with directors.
After working for almost 16 years together, Jatin-Lalit announced that they would be parting ways due to personal problems. Reasons for the separation are unknown. But in a media interview they talked about their separation. Jatin said “I don’t want to talk about it as it will hurt my brother. If I tell you why we separated then I will be talking against him. I don’t want to do that. He is my younger brother and my blessings are with him.” Lalit replied “There are many things that are not in your hand. We thought we would work last on Fanaa and part ways. Life doesn’t stop because we have separated. Yes, there were personal problems.”