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Interviews |  20 Nov 2008 10:40 |  By chiragsutar

Parvati Kumari - "I don't believe in the �Gharana' music tradition"

After an initial struggle in the music industry, Underground artiste Parwati Kumari released her new album �Barse Barse Naina' with a fabulous opening performance last week in Mumbai. Today, the �live' music lover's delight, Parvati Kumari is set to promote her album in other cities.

Considered to be Saregama India's most recent discovery, Parwati Kumari landed in Mumbai a couple of years ago, armed with nothing but a music degree and a dream to sing.

Parwati Kumar in a chat with's Chirag Sutar on her journey so far.


How did your music journey begin?

My journey with singing started when I was ten years old. Initially, it was my sister who used to learn singing, but eventually my dad thought even I should take it up, because he felt I had a voice which could be cultivated – I also used to sing bhajans in my hometown. Later, I did my Sangeet Visharad from Gandharva Mahavidyalay and a BA in music from Delhi University. Eventually, I developed interest in Sufi – especially after listening to Abida Parveen. So I learnt the nuances of Sufi music from Chand Farid Nizam at a Mazhar in Delhi. During my three year struggle in Mumbai, it was music duo Sajid Wajid who heard me for the first time and put me forward to Gaurav Issar ( Bhaiya) . He gave me the opportunity to be a part of saregama India Limited's much talked about project Underground Series which saw my first track Arre logon.

Who have been your musical influences?

It has to be Lata Mangeshkar, Begum Akhtar, Parveen Sultana and Bhimsen Joshi, but one of my major influences would be Abida Parveen. I once sang an Abida Parveen song in a college competition – a Punjabi track. The response it got was overwhelming, but more importantly, after this I realised that should I should pursue Sufi music because I enjoy it so much.

Your voice is similar to Abida Parveen and Shubha Mudgal's. Do you make an effort to change it?

Even if I change, it sounds the same (Laughs). Anyway, I don't take these comparisons negatively – after all, I am being compared to great artistes. If some batsman is compared to Sachin Tendulkar, obviously he would feel proud.

You have had your share of struggles, did you ever think of getting into television reality shows?

Reality shows need packaged performers. Moreover, I have just started getting comfortable with backing tracks and loops – many of the reality show singers are good at that. In addition, you will always see me with lyrics written on a sheet of paper – I always tend to forget the lyrics (Laughs) – So, I am far from it!

You learnt music from different Gharanas. How did it help?

Having a classical background helped me, but to be honest, "mein gharane mein believe nahin karti"… (I don't believe in the �Gharana' music tradition)

What influenced you to follow the Sufi lifestyle?

Well, I don't really know when and how the Sufi faith grew on me. But as a person, I am very open – If I don't like something, I convey it. And, on many occasions, I and Gauravbhaiyya (Gaurav Issar, composer) have been at loggerheads over the songs of this album (laughs).

Coming to you album, Sufi purists have always been critical about the Sufi genre being mixed…

It's not that all songs in the album Barse Barse Naina have electronica, we do have songs with minimal or traditional Sufi arrangements. The reason for fusing some of the songs was to draw the young listeners – one has to evolve with time. If you see, even Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had sung Afreen Afreen – which was very contemporary as far as the arrangement goes.

What is your album about?

Barse Barse Naina is a mix of not only different genres of music but also a mix of different emotions expressed for each track. The title track Barse Barse Naina projects human feelings which one goes through while having a heartbreak or sacrifice. The lyrics are by renowned personalities like Gaurav Issar, Bulleshah, Ekhlas, Kumaar Gill and Kris Correya. As you can see, the album not only has variations in music but in the lyrics as well, giving each person a freedom of expression.

What does �music' mean to you?

Rooh honi chahiye, be it any genre, "bhaav aur rooh jaroori hai …sangeet matlab rooh"
(The songs or compositions should have soul, expression and soul are very important, for me music means �soul')

Would you sing for Bollywood?

Yes, I would – definitely.

Have you met either Shubha Mudgal or Abida Parveen?

I remember I had participated in a singing competition in Delhi – Shubha Mudgal was the judge!

Did you win?

Of course, I won! (laughs)