Divine intervention

Nafeesah Ahmed speaks to well-known Sufi singer Kailash Kher on his tryst with the music world, the discipline it requires, and how he doesn’t fit the mould.

Kailash KherMuch has been said and written about Kailash Kher’s journey of life, from being a nobody to becoming one of India’s most popular singers today. So, when I encountered an opportunity to meet him during a gig scheduled at the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, I tried to steer away from asking the usual questions about his initial days of struggle and the inspiration behind his brand of music. But to my surprise, he laughed and said, “Clichéd questions poochiye, kyunki wo hi zaada chhapte hain!”

And while we did eventually end up talking about his days of strife and struggle in Delhi, and how the life of the common man today provides inspiration enough for his songs, Kher also confessed to not being cut out to lead a disciplined life and how, despite having made a name for himself in world of sufi music among other genres, the concept of sufism still continues to elude him.

He says, “Sufi is a tough word to describe, because after having spent time with many saints, I realised that their way of life is beyond explanation or words.” He adds, “Some people even refer to me as a divine child, what they don’t realise is that I’m not doing anything exceptional, I’m simply enjoying my work and making music.” As for writing his own lyrics, he says it all comes to him naturally and if in any way he can contribute towards making a change through his music, he would gladly do so.

His composition for the Anna Hazare campaign against corruption and the live performance in Delhi is one such humble example. He shares, “It was not a ‘preachy’ song, it was about paving the way for change. The lyrics sum up my thoughts on the current state of affairs in the country and how we can be instrumental in bringing about the change we’ve been waiting for.”

Translating passion

Talking about his band Kailasa, he says that having performed in various countries he has seen people of all nationalities enjoy his music. About a recent gig abroad, he said, “The crowd was not only dancing, but also crying in happiness due to the connect they could feel with music. I have always been passionate about my music and am glad they could relate to it and enjoy.”

It was for this passion that Kher left home at a young age to pursue studies in classical music, only to realise that he had not anticipated the harsh realities of the outside world — “It was difficult to adjust, for I was doing odd jobs to survive and couldn’t fit in time for music lessons and follow the disciplined schedule they wanted me to. Perhaps I was never cut out for it. The desire to pursue classical music never wavered but my time schedules were designed by the supreme force and I could never fit in.”

Even when he did not get the chance to attend regular college, Kher never regretted it. “Because in those days, I used to take tuitions, study through correspondence, handle a day job and even find time to have some fun. I also did not study music by the book. If that had happened, I would have perhaps got caught in formulas and fundamentals. I would not have been able to create…I would have become a trained follower and not a trend setter!”

So what’s next, I asked? And he simply laughed, pointed towards the heavens, and said, “Humse nahin, hamare manager se poochiye!”

Despite the absence of the silver spoon, Kailesh Kher is a household name today, and going by the turnout at the gig, this seemed like an understatement. The Kingdom of Dreams venue was almost bursting at the seams with fans, and Kailasa made sure that the audience had a memorable time. While Kher belted out one popular song after the other, he called upon the audience to get to their feet and after a bit of coaxing, the crowds could soon be seen dancing with abandon throughout the evening.

Even the weather gods decided to grant us a break from the sweltering heat, making it into a pleasant evening. With the mercury touching the mid-forties mark in the city, an outdoor performance had seemed like a bad idea waiting to get worse, but the turning of the weather like it did, made me marvel at Kher’s claim of a divine connection. Or perhaps, he had been practicing raag megh malhar that morning.

Comments (+)