Chat Naresh Kamath on what makes Kailasa tick
“W e share a strange connection, something indefinable,” says Naresh Kamath who along with his brother Paresh Kamath is the rather unsung member of the Kailasa band. “When Kailash (Kher) was struggling in Mumbai, he did some cover versions of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's songs. There are plenty of so-called managers in the business who try to make a quick buck by making a young talent sing covers of popular artistes. The artiste gets only a measly amount. We were also struggling at that time. One day this manager came with the recording of Kailash singing Nusrat's ‘Piya Re' and asked us if we would like to set it to western tunes. We liked his voice and decided to give it a go. It worked well. So for the first time we collaborated without even seeing each other. Kailash liked our western compositions and we appreciated his rustic voice. We felt that it is an interesting contrast we should explore it. Hence the band came into being,” relates Naresh, who plays the bass guitar and keyboards.
The first thing they did was to shut the doors on the managers. “These are parasites who don't want anybody to do original work.” Naresh says Kailash comes from the folk tradition and they are rooted in western music. “He brings complex melodies and we attempt to turn them into a harmony.” Naresh and Paresh studied at St. Peters, Panchgani. Yes, the same school where Freddie Mercury of Queens also had his initial education. “Unlike western music, Indian music doesn't have the concept of harmony. It thrives on melodies. At school our piano teacher used to make different groups in different tunes but when we used to sing together, it came out as harmonious whole. That was our starting point,” says Naresh, who doesn't have any formal education in music.
Once, youngsters used to look for the meaning of Urdu and Persian words after listening to ghazals, now Kailash has made them go crazy after dialects. “He has a great command over Awadhi dialect as he has introduced words like suraga in his songs. But we have to ensure that he doesn't go too far with the experimentation. He has a diploma in Urdu as well. So he is able to mix it really well. The idea is to create a unique position in the market without going out of reach of the vocabulary of today's youngster.”
But all the limelight has gone to Kailash so far. “This is how the Indian media works. They always go after the vocalist. Also, ‘Allah Ke Bande' catapulted him to a star singer in Bollywood. Interestingly, not many people know that ‘Allah Ke Bande' was originally sung by Rabbi Shergill but because of some contractual issues with Channel V, his voice could not be used. Our friend Abhijit Nallani used to work as an arranger with Vishal-Shekhar. He had heard Kailash at our house and he introduced him to Vishal. Rabbi's loss became Kailash's gain. After that whatever we did is considered only Kailash's work. We have composed music for films as well but the media considers only Kailash as newsworthy. Hopefully, things will change with ‘Rangeele', where we have played a bigger role.”