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Melancholy man

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The colours of passion Kailash Kher in New Delhi Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
The colours of passion Kailash Kher in New Delhi Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

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On a serious note, he says success can't corrupt him because God revealed to him the real world first before showing the façade.

“Money and good life had never been my goal. Had it been I would have made it by singing at jagratas and cutting albums with honchos, who are said to have an ear for talent. They wear 20 gold rings and 10 gold chains and when it comes to music they just want ample use of octapad and that jhanak jhanak sound. The breed hasn't changed yet.”

Son of a practising pandit, Kailash says like every other middle class father, he wanted to see him in government service and when he expressed his desire to learn music, family and neighbours advised him that the boy had gone astray. He was left to fend for himself. “To top it, the gurus didn't find my voice exciting. It was heart breaking for a teenager. I used to think I will die unsung.” It is not that he didn't knock at the right doors. “My friend and guide Sudhanshu Bahuguna advised me to seek blessings of Madhup Mudgalji at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. He is a kind soul but I used to do odd jobs at that time to make the ends meet and it meant I was seldom on time for the classes. We used to sing in a group and I could hardly make an impact. My real guru are my experiences in life, the realisation that you are alone in this world came every early to me and perhaps it finds way in my voice.”

Before success knocked

He even tried his luck in hotels and restaurants but with no interest in ghazals and film songs, he could not make it to the refined world in Delhi. Disgruntled, he started his export business. “By that time I had learnt the wily ways of the big city. I have this uncanny ability to convince people and it came in handy but after the initial success, I suffered heavy losses. Today, I see it as God's way to tell me not to go for shortcuts. At that time my relatives suggested to try my father's profession and for this I left for Rishikesh. I used to sing aartis on the ghats. It was the time when aartis were also sung in filmy tunes, something I was against. Soon I had a considerable following. People had begun to touch my feet. I felt like Dev Anand of Guide . I was not equipped to handle that kind of reverence and went into depression. One senior swamiji saw it on my face and asked my story. He advised me to go to Mumbai. He said one more failure won't break you but at least you will have the satisfaction of giving it all for your passion. In Mumbai, after the initial struggle, I met Naresh and Paresh. They were also starting out and had a feel for the contemporary sound. Together, we felt, we would make a rocking combination and started working on an album. In the meantime I started singing jingles to earn my daily bread. I was noticed by an assistant of Vishal Dadlani. He took me to Vishal, who was looking for a new voice for ‘Allah Ke Bande'.”

He reminds that Sufi is not any genre but a thought. “My poetry comes from the bhakti bhava , where I am in conversation with Him but the listener could interpret it as beloved. He breaks into one of his compositions to explain his point, “He ri sakhi mangal gao ri, dharti ambar sajao ri, utregi aaj mere pi ki sawari, ari koi kajal lao ri, mohe tika lagao…aaj mere piya ghar avenge.” Here for a layman it is about a girl waiting for his love but to me it is a man preparing for communion with Him.”

Cut to the present and Kailash is excited about the band's new album “Rangeele”, which will be distributed by Sa Re Ga Ma. “The 12 songs are about love and romance. What it means to different people. We are going to have online promotion where common people will be asked what love means to them. Like for the tea seller outside my office, love is all about keeping the policemen in good humour by giving them some cut and free sips. The mood traverses from reality to spirituality. The sound is more contemporary than our previous albums as it is for the Indian, who gets hooked to sound before words. This time Naresh and Paresh are playing more important role.”

All for organic music, Kailash says he has used the sound of real instruments. “From sitars and guitars to cellos, dholaks and manjeera, we have used them all. Electronic sounds come cheap but they have created a situation where both instruments and instrumentalists are fast becoming endangered. We need to preserve them. We have a very talented Tapas Roy with us who could play 30 instruments and is passionate about finding instruments which are fast going out of use.”

The mighty right

On starting his label, Kailash says physical sale of music has come down considerably. “In this scenario it is unrealistic to expect music companies back non-film music. These days the revenue comes mostly from online sale of music and the ringtones. It is not much but over a period of time you could recover your cost and the most important thing is it is a transparent process. You don't have to deal with shady guys whose only concern is to cut costs and make profits.”

Kailash, who is a member of the standing committee dealing with the Copyright Bill, says things are going to change for better soon as authorities have begun to realise the plight of creative people. “The royalty laws were there but the agencies required to collect the royalties on behalf of the artistes were not doing their job properly. Now, with international players coming in, artistes have realised the importance of fair play.”

My real gurus are my experiences in life, the realisation that you are alone in this world came every early to me and perhaps it finds way in my voice

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