Sufi music and ghazals – the mere mention of them brings a heavenly feel in the minds of music lovers. Soulful rendition of those songs takes the listeners to another world and soothes them. It isn’t surprise that Sufi music and ghazals have a huge fan following in India, courtesy of musicians like Ghulam Ali, Abida Parveen, Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhas etc. Though many Indian musicians perform Sufi music and ghazals, Kavita Seth holds a special place among them due to her marvellous performances on stage.
Kavita has also proved her mettle in Bollywood by delivering some superhit songs. She started her playback singing career in 2005 with the song Maula from Satish Kaushik’s film Vaada. Perhaps she is more known to the people through the poignant rendition of the song Iktara from the film Wake Up Sid, which fetched her all major Bollywood awards including a Filmfare Award for the Best Female Singer. “I used to give a lot of live performances during my childhood. But my love for Sufi music began after listening to a concert of Abida Parveen. I attended the programme and even performed there. A lot of Sufi musicians from many parts of the world were there, too. At that time, I didn’t have an in-depth knowledge in Sufi music. The speciality of Sufi music is that whenever we perform, an amazing aura is created around us. The music so peaceful that it makes me very happy whenever I perform. It’s a connection between humans and a power we call as ‘god’ or in many names,” says Kavita about her love for Sufi music.
“Whenever I sing, I enjoy a lot. The truth is that I get so immersed in singing that I never notice how the audience reacts to the performance. Performing Sufi music gives the singer and the audience a blissful feeling which can’t actually be expressed in words. It’s truly magical and that one concert made me decide that I’ll only do Sufi music thereafter,” she adds. Satish Kaushik happened to attend one of her concerts in Delhi and that paved her entry into Bollywood. He was impressed by her versatile voice tone and decided to use her talent for Vaada. “He found my voice amazing,” she quips. “The song Maula was a Sufi song and was composed by me. It was a beautiful song and was nominated for awards. The song gave me the perfect entry into Bollywood.”
She asserts that live performances were her first love and continue to be. However, she was always open to playback singing and that’s why she sang for Vaada. “Though my entry into Bollywood was late, I don’t find that as a drawback. When we sing for Bollywood movies, even if it’s just two or three lines, the reach is humungous. The song will attain you a name globally. That is the advantage of playback singing and that’s why everyone opts to sing in Bollywood. When I sang Iktara, people started recognising who Kavita Seth is.
Though I have been giving live performances since childhood and many had heard of me, the fame Bollywood songs gave me is enormous. That’s the biggest point.”
Her other hit songs include Tumhi Ho Bandhu from Cocktail and Mora Piya from Raajneeti. Though most of her songs are hits, she has only sung a handful of songs in her 14-year Bollywood career. “I’m very choosy. When I choose a song, my first preference is always the lyrics. Nowadays, most of the songs are missing the poetic element it. The standard is stooping lower day-by-day. All the songs I have sung have the poetic touch. If my priority is met, the other factors like the director and the cast won’t matter to me. I’ll happily go and record the song.
Recently, I sung Khalipan Shor Kare for the movie Paharganj. It’s a beautiful classical based song with meaningful lyrics.”
Her independent song Mahi was released by Spinnin’ Records recently and that topped the charts. She believes that her songs should give a good message to society. She asserts that the music world is vast beyond Bollywood. She’s currently working on her dream project Mein Kavita Hoon. “It deals with only poetry and I will be singing only poems. I will bring one poet to the show and they will recite their poetry. I will compose their poetry, ghazals or whatever they have written. The show will be dedicated to the particular poet only. The project started with Waseem Barelvi. I’ve a long list of poets and I’m planning to do the show globally. The project will feature contemporary and classic poets. I’m very focussed on the project.”
She has also composed music for three movies. Being a composer from childhood, she says the entry into music direction was accidental. She has also done six music albums, with the last one Trance with Khusorow being released in 2014. “The commercial angle won’t work with me while I’m composing music. I like to have the freedom to work. I do music according to the mood and flow.”
She believes that the scene of independent music is very good in India. With more bands and independent songs coming out well, people will realise that music is not confined to movie songs alone. She also leads the Sufi band Karwaan, which performs in India and abroad. She has also sung for a Kannada movie. “I listen to South music. I wish to sing a Malayalam song soon. By God’s grace all my songs have been noticed. I wish people continue to love me and my songs,” she wraps up....