‘Jwalamukhi’ and me: How singer Poorvi Koutish landed AR Rahman’s ‘99 Songs’

Poorvi Kautish on working with AR Rahman in ‘99 Songs’   | Photo Credit: Saurabh Muley

Poorvi Koutish does not have a quarantine playlist. "Silence..that's what I'm listening to," she says, almost philosophically, from Mumbai.

The singer might not have one, but many others are seeking comfort in their earphones, listening to her rendition of 'Jwalamukhi' and the other numbers in AR Rahman's 99 Songs. Poorvi has sung a couple of songs in the Hindi version, and will be featured in the Tamil and Telugu versions as well, and is currently basking in the praise that is coming her way.

"Even when the composition was played to me, I had goosebumps. With certain things in life, you get a feeling that you are in sync with them. 'Jwalamukhi' was love at first sight....I mean, listen," says the singer.

At that point of time, though, she was not even aware that she was going to be its lead vocalist. She was called to utter just one word - 'Jwalamukhi' - while the rest of the lyrics were being written. "I thought that it was just another demo."


But it wasn't. Sometime later, she recorded for it, but even then, Poorvi did not know if it would make it to the final selection. Much later, when she was interning at Rahman's studio, Poorvi was checking out something on the computer, when Rahman happened to walk by. "He said, 'Hey, do you want to watch the movie? That's when I heard my voice.'"

Poorvi grew up in Chandigarh, where her mother Veenu Koutish taught Hindustani music. Her parents are huge fans of Indian music, and often "dragged her along" to ghazal concerts. "I hated it," she recalls. When her mother realised that Poorvi wasn't too interested, she gifted her the music of Britney Spears and Stevie Wonder. "I slowly started liking it, and developed an interest in international pop."

That was Poorvi's gateway into a musical world, one that would expand thanks to the Internet. She was soon listening to numbers from across the globe, all of which honed her musical skills. "I used to come back from school and plonk myself for seven hours at a stretch...just listening to music and singing."

The hours have stretched, but she is doing pretty much that to this day. After a course in Western Classical music from KM Music Conservatory ("learning opera there was like learning from scratch") and an internship in music production, Poorvi has her sights set on making heads turn in the music industry.

She has already sung for Anirudh in Ajith's Vivegam in the past. Coming up, she has two songs in another AR Rahman project (Dil Bechara), and has also recorded with composer Girishh G for Nayanthara's Netrikann, which has been produced by Vignesh Shivan and directed by Milind Rau. Poorvi believes that her all-round experience in 99 Songs will hold her in good stead. "This was not just about the music. It was a wholesome experience in which I got to work in several departments. It was a perfect case of being at the right place, at the right time for me," beams the singer, who is also a fan of Vishal Bharadwaj and Amit Trivedi.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 12:52:06 AM |

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