Kavita Seth, who is popularly known for her Sufi style singing, has given Bollywood some soulful numbers. Kavita's heart touching voice and compositions paved her way into Bollywood playback singing with smashing hits like ‘Ik Tara’, ‘Tum Hi Ho Bandhu’ and others. However, despite having a beautiful voice and devotion for music, Kavita never went on singing spree. Unlike other singers she always stayed choosy with the genres and the kind of lyrics offered to her.
Though her songs in Bollywood may be few, but they all have been wonderful numbers. And now she has crooned yet another meaningful song ‘Prem Mein Tohre’, that has sufiana touch, from the lately released BEGUM JAAN and her next being an emotional number ‘Aise Hoti Hai Maa’ from MAATR.
In a candid conversation with Kavita, she spills beans on her career, her journey in Bollywood, her struggles, her opinion on reworked versions, her take on lesser number of female sufi singers, her wish to croon for Priyanka Chopra and much more.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about the song that you crooned in BEGUM JAAN?
I have sung the reprised version of the song ‘Prem Mein Tohre’ in BEGUM JAAN which is originally sung by legendary singer Asha Bhosle. I am very lucky that I got this song to sing which Asha Bhosle ji has already sung. The reason I chose this song because it was the demand of the film as well as Srijit wanted this version.
How is your version different from Asha Bhosle’s song?
I believe Srijit wanted a romantic angle and a sufi touch to the song, hence he wanted me. Moreover I was offered some other song from the film which I wasn’t comfortable with the lyrics and poetry to sing. Hence (Anuji) Anu Malik decided that he will compose the song. He right way composed the song and I sang.
You lent voice to Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan? Who’s next on the wish list?
I always wanted to lend my voice to Vidya Balan as she is a very fine actress in the current league of actors. Now I wish to sing for Priyanka Chopra as she is from my hometown Bareilly.
What makes you choosy about singing only specific genres?
At times I am not convinced to sing a particular song as the poetry and lyrics I can’t connect with. I first ask everyone for the lyrics. If I feel I can’t emote or sing a particular lyric, then I will say no, else I will sing. I don’t ask the budget or who composed the song.
Tell us about your journey through Sufi singing?
When I was young I would go to Dargah and would listen to Sufi songs. I would love listening to it and then I wanted to pursue my career in singing. I started with singing Bhajans and Ghazals. Post which, I was lucky enough as I got a chance to perform with Abida Parveen at a Sufi music festival. Then, I understood that my area of interest is in Sufi singing. I haven’t taken any formal training in Sufi singing but yes in a classical training I have taken classes, I am still learning. I now love listening to all the songs like Ghazals, romantic and Sufi of course.
There are less female Sufi singers, why do you think so?
I believe purity is needed, anyone can sing. Meera Bai was a Sufi singer; poet Kabir’s ‘Nirgun’ is Sufi, singing Sufi is not important. You need to imbibe the genre within you. I feel lucky Bollywood has this genre and now, I can take music to everyone. There are less female music directors. I am also a music director but that happened accidently. I like singing more than director but now I feel that I should get into music direction as well.
'I was offered to sing double meaning songs'
Any Hollywood singer or musician that intrigues you?
Elton john, I would love to perform with Elton John.
What is your take on recreated numbers these days?
There is much competition. The songs that are coming now have less shelf life as the music directors tamper with them. There was an era where music directors like, OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, Jaidev Kumar, the era of 70s, 80s, 90s the music had meaning and people had recall value. Nowadays its 2 mins noodles, the songs are instantly recreated. I believe, if you give time to something it will surely be beautiful. I still think remixes are okay, I understand that the new generation hasn’t heard those songs and when the old one is remixed, they tend to listen to the original song. I have also sung some old songs and have redesigned some 8-10 songs, with ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ and will soon launch, post which I have Amrita Pritam’s album, which will be released as an album.
Who are your favorite new age singers?
I love Arijit Singh’s voice, Shilpa Rao, Harshdeep, Richa Sharma, Neha Bhasin too is magical and I loved her voice in ‘Jag Ghoomya’ and my all-time favourite will be Jagjit Singh, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sonu Nigam.
There are so many reality shows, after their claim to fame they get vanished. What are your views on it?
The hype that is created is massive. They hype a lot, and if you don’t practice (do riyaaz) and go with the flow you fall flat. You should try covers, ground work is important. For instance, Arijit went to Gurukul, he practiced a lot; you need to polish and perform a lot to adapt to your own voice, never ape any singer, keep your originality intact.
Tell us about your struggle in Bollywood?
After singing 'Ya Maula', I was at home for three years. I was offered to sing double meaning songs which I wasn’t comfortable at home. However, I kept patience; I thought there is no scope in the industry for me. Then my stars changed as I got ‘Ik Taara’ and from then I feel blessed that things have worked in my favours. After ‘Prem Mein Tohre’ I have a song in Raveena Tandon’s MAATR named ‘Aise Hoti Hai Maa’ which is beautiful.
Your kids also perform with you. Are they interested in making a career in Sufi singing?
They are on stage with me. My son Kavish has done IIT from Powai, he didn’t apply anywhere. In fact he is multi-talented he is a song writer, composer and guitarist also. I have kept them free. They can sing any genre.