Some soulful singing

Some soulful singing

Devoted singer

Sufi queen Kavita Seth

“I started singing when I was barely three or four, and as far as I remember, I have always been passionate about my singing. I grew up in Bareilly and my father used to take me to a dargah where I listened to lot of qawwali and sufi songs that formed the background of my musical journey. While I kept singing all kinds of genres, be it devotional, qawwali, ghazal or folk, I was somehow not satisfied. I then happened to attend Muzaffar Ali’s Jahan-e-Khusrau, which was a meet that attracted sufi singers from across the world. It was then that I realised that sufi was my calling. It’s been almost 12 years since,” she says.

She will also be performing at Jodhpur’s Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) and is excited about being the only performer from India to be invited this year. “We have been asked to present Indian sounds and will be using a lot of Indian instruments in our performance. I am looking forward to listening to musicians from across the world,” says Seth whose recent numbers, Iktara from Wake Up Sid and Mora Piya from Raajneeti, were superhits. Incidentally, her Bollywood debut happened rather late, in 2005, as she had never imagined her voice would suit playback singing.

“I got my break in 2005 when I composed and sang Zindagi ko sanwar de maula for Vaada  and Mujhe mat roko for Mahesh Bhatt’s Gangster. However, for two to three years after that, I didn’t get the kind of work I wanted. Then, Iktara happened. I have also composed Intezaar for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film, My friend Pinto, and sung for upcoming movies Dehradun Diaries and Trishna (a Hollywood production).”

She has already released four albums, Sufiana, Jaam-e-Sufi, Bulle-Shah and Kabirana Sufiana, while Khuda Wahi Hai will soon be released. “It’s a beautiful album comprising some traditional songs and some from new sufi poets. Also, in terms of treatment, I have added mild rock notes including base guitar and drums to give it a peppy feel,” says this multi-award winning artist.

Her albums are doing well and movies give her recognition. She believes this combination is working well for her. Considering that sufi is a niche music genre and that she is a woman in the field, Seth is unperturbed. “I have never thought on those lines. Whatever I sing or write is dedicated to God and so I feel like the most powerful woman when I am performing.”

She aims to popularise sufi music across the world and is reading poetry and literature in the field to keep herself well-informed. In fact, she says that a recent performance in a remote village in Patna took her by surprise as there was a huge crowd of over 6,000 people who listened in rapt attention.

Speaking on the spate of reality shows on television, she considers it “a good platform for children from smaller towns.” However, she stresses on the need for practice and learning.

She elaborates, “I find the winners from such reality shows get carried away with fame, perform in a few shows for a couple of years, and then disappear. I believe in the saying, ‘the longer the tree grows, the deeper are its roots.’ Somehow, these shows cannot sustain and nurture talent in the long run.”

For her, it’s sufi all the way forward, as it promotes peace and love and that’s something the world definitely needs.