Adding Allah and Maula isn't enough: Kavita Seth

Though she’s known for Hindi chartbusters like Iktara and Tumhi Ho Bandhu, Kavita still prefers to be called a Sufi singer and is happy with the pace of her filmography so far. The crooner who lost her husband to pancreatitis is planning to pay tribute to him on his first death anniversary. The concert is titled Nirvana and is scheduled to take place on December 15. We caught up with Kavita to know more

Kavita Seth

Is it a conscious decision to stick to songs with a classical feel?
I come from a classical background so, it’s natural to lean towards my kind of music. Unlike most Bollywood singers, I travel a lot, performing across the country. In simple words, Ghazal and Sufi music complete me. Accordingly, I tend to choose filmi songs that have an orthodox ring to them.

Are you happy with the way Sufi music is thriving in Bollywood?
To be frank, it has become fashionable to include Sufi songs in Hindi films.Whatever be the song, one can’t compromise on the lyrics. They must be written at a ruhaana (soulful) level. Just adding words like Allah and Maula isn’t enough. Sufi music fundamentally beckons the spirit of love while having a conversation with God.

Do you see yourself singing a funky number anytime soon?
I wouldn’t choose a song that I won’t be comfortable singing in front of my kids. Having said that, I don’t think only one form of music should exist. But then, complacency shouldn’t be entertained just for popularity’s sake. Songs have to be rich and deep. I often get calls from music directors who want me to sing numbers with lots of behuda shabd (laughs).

Speaking of music directors, you’ve consistently worked with Amit Trivedi.
I work with anyone who has something new to offer even if it’s a 15 year-old prodigy. Collaborating with Amit and Vishal-Shekhar has been blissful. I look forward to the day when AR Rahman approaches me. That would be a dream come true.

Buzz is that Ranbir Kapoor is recommending you to filmmakers?
I don’t know whether that’s true or not. Since I’ve sung in two of his films (Wake Up Sid and Rajneeti), he knows me well. He was humble enough to compliment me for Iktara and Mora Piya.

What is the high of perfoming live?
When you’re the on the stage performing, you are the queen of your art. Also, the instant response you get from the crowd makes all the difference. A studio is way too controlled to provide a singer that creative space. And then there is the music director’s perspective to be adhered to because playback singing is a collaborative effort.

Which has been your most memorable concert till date?
I always enjoy performing at places like IIT Bombay or IIM Ahmedabad where youngsters abound. I love going back to Hyderabad and Lucknow too because the crowd there understands Persian and follows the encouraging wah-wah culture.

Who inspires you as a singer?
My late husband inspires me a lot. Although he’s not around anymore, he is the reason why I’ll never give up music. Among the Sufi lot, Nusratsaab (Fateh Ali Khan) and Abidaji (Parveen) will always be my favourites. I like all those who sing from their heart.

What role did your late husband play in your career?
Everything started with him. Had it not been for KK (Seth), we wouldn’t be having this interview today. He believed in me more than I did. I like to think that we had the sort of relationship Rumi and Sham had where I was always getting more and more enriched.

Have you invited people from the industry for the upcoming tribute?
Yes, most are musicians. My husband lived with music and his demise should be remembered with music.

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