Kashmiri music has subconsciously always been in me, says ‘Gully Boy’ singer Vibha Saraf

Singer-songwriter Vibha Saraf’s memories of her house in Kashmir are few and precious. “I remember the staircase, the telephone, the house was next to a river,” she recalls her ancestral home in Fateh Kadal, Srinagar.

Now based in Mumbai, Vibha grew up in Delhi after the Kashmiri Pandit exodus of the 1990s. She is now making her presence felt in Bollywood; her latest is the song, ‘Kab Se Kab Tak’.

“I had recorded a five-minute rendition of a Kashmiri folk song with Dub Sharma. He kept it and it so happened that Gully Boy‘s music supervisor, Ankur Tewari had heard it, and wanted me on board for one song,” she says. “The next thing you know, I’m sitting there, singing with Ranveer Singh!”

Vibha’s breakthrough in film music came in 2018, with ‘Dilbaro’, for Raazi. “The term ‘Dilbaro’was actually coined by my mother,” she reveals. The Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy song serves as the backdrop Sehmat leaving her parents’ house in India to her in-laws in Pakistan. “Shankar wanted something rooted in Kashmiri folk, so we went through a lot of Kashmiri writings from the 13th-14th centuries. Finally, I remembered these lines from ‘Khanmoj koor’ that my mother would sing and cry to at every wedding. I thought it was time to reclaim that song,” she says.

Artistes from the war-torn land have an additional responsibility of moving past the negative image of their home state. Vibha wants people to associate Kashmir with its rich history in music and oral storytelling. “It falls on our generation; how much we stick to our roots, how aggressive we are about where we come from. Look at the Punjabis.

They have always been aggressive about their identity, wearing it on their sleeves,” she says.

Her own upbringing, though was in Delhi, remained Kashmiri, thanks to her grandparents. “My maternal side would speak and sing in Kashmiri. I read Kashmiri literature, poems by our poetesses like Lal Ded, and Habba Khatoon. So Kashmiri music has subconsciously always been in me,” she says.

Saying that it’s the rubab that reminds her most of Kashmir, she explains how memories of Kashmir and anecdotes from her grandparents are reflected in her songs. “We are all collectors of stories, after all.”

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 8:58:12 PM |

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