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Last Updated 24.09.2019 | 1:07 PM IST
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Kailash Kher on Chandan Mein and More

His newest album Chaandan Mein, says Kailash Kher, is about melody on a mission. The Sufi singer discusses making music for the soul as well as his more commercial assignments


What was the thought behind your latest album, which is your third one as Kailasa?

Kailasa, besides me, comprises Paresh and Naresh Kamath, whose expertise is in sound and arrangements and they are responsible for the treatment of my compositions. Kailasa as a band was introduced in the album of that name, followed by Kailasa – Jhoomo Re and now Kailasa – Chaandan Mein.

Obviously, if I am coming up with an album only once in two years it’s important for me not to churn out something run-of-the-mill. In this case mera ek khaas maqsad tha. I gave a lot of thought to what I should do next. I was averse to anything shallow, run-of-the-mill again. I never did such work when I had yet to make a name, why would I do so at this stage?

There is so much music happening all around that the other issue before me was “What can I give that is new, refreshing and interesting and stands out in the crowd?” And then I had a thought – our country has so many dialects and languages. This is our invaluable and limitless treasury that has never been explored. On the contrary we have taken this very lightly in our progress and speed towards a global culture. We are over-eager to try out something that comes from outside.


The title itself, Chaandan Mein, is one step in that direction, right?

Absolutely. I did not want the routine words that you hear almost unconconsciously jaise behti nadi mein nahaa liya karte hain log (like taking passing dips in a flowing river). I wanted people to pause the current of the stream, think and ask “What does this beautiful word or phrase mean? What can it mean?” and savour the beauty of such terms.

From childhood, I was never attracted to the easy way out – mujhe easy, routine cheezon ka shouq nahin tha. And mind you, the idea isn’t to impress anyone. But this depth and lyrical beauty gives me some strange internal joy. It was of course God’s blessing that I could collect such words and string an invaluable garland of such wonderful words that are rooted in our cultural soil. What is Chaandan Mein but “in a moonlit night?”. I chose the title for its romantic connotation since I realised that all my songs, which I had written and composed so spontaneously, were love songs.


But in a way Paresh-Naresh’s sound is not really contemporary.

Haan, sound mein hum backward gaye ! (Laughs) Once again, we did something bold for our own satisfaction – we chose instruments that were either not in use or are almost, to use a term, extinct. Among them are instruments that even many contemporary musicians are unaware of.


Could you give us some examples?

There is dhons, which is a drum many times bigger than even a nagada. We have used a dutara, a custom-made 2-string instrument, the chimta and taasha. We put in a lot of effort to trace these instruments and musicians. Then there were slightly more common instruments like rabab, oud, dilruba, vichitra veena, rudra veena, ravanhatta, israj and bagal baccha. Our percussionist Sanket acquainted us with the South African instrument called kalimba, which is similar in looks and tone to something described in our Vedas. I am attracted to such instruments too – we have used the kalimba in the song Jaagu main saari saari raat. We had our goal very clear – to revive forgotten words and rarely-heard or almost unknown instruments. The entire album has an organic feel because it is completely acoustic.


This is quite a bold decision, given current trends.

Dekhiye, we took a lot of feedback from people and we still get their reactions. I am happy to know that the reactions are very positive.They have conveyed clearly that they want good music and more – they want freshness and purity. They do not want just to listen to a song, they want to be able to hum it or sing it. Unnko gaana sunna bhi pasand hai aur gungunana bhi.


You write, compose and sing your own songs. What comes first – the words or the tunes?

That’s not the way I make my music. For me, a song and a thought come spontaneously – and I am almost in a trance when this happens. A song that comes deep from within can be of any genre – because it is not planned or premeditated. I have not made a single song in my album because Sony-BMG ka paisa aa rahaa hain mujhe! I am a traveller on the road of music and for me music is a sadhana, akin to meditating or worship. For example, the eighth track Kar kar main haara happened unplanned at the last moment. I was in a state of near Nirvaan. You must be aware that I was practically brought up by saints.


Is that how you approach films as well – we mean the films that have music by Kailasa?

Yes.


But film songs have situations that have briefs attached to them.

I try and choose films wherein my music will have something different from the routine. Kailasa’s songs in Dasvidaniya were truly liked and the music that we composed for Chandni Chowk To China were highly appreciated. Pranali’s songs also got good reviews. As a singer, I have been very lucky too, whether it was Vishal-Shekhar’s Allah ke bande, which became an anthem, Aadesh Shrivastava’s Rang deeni from Dev, O sikander from Corporate, Chak de phatte from Khosla Ka Ghosla and now Fatak from Kaminey.


Are you doing films now as composer?

I am doing something very different for Fruit & Nut and talks are on for some films of Percept Picture Company.

Screen India

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