Kavita Krishnamurthy: Songs for the heart and soul

Ahead of the forthcoming shows, the much loved star discussed her action packed career, influences and love for live performance with Eastern Eye

Kavita Krishnamurthy: Songs for the heart and soul

Kavita Krishnamurthy

By:
Asjad Nazir

KAVITA KRISHNAMURTHY has become an integral part of people’s lives with the stunning songs she has delivered across the decades.

The timeless tracks like Pyaar Hua Chupke Se, Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, Dola Re Dola, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Hawa Hawai, Tu Hi Re and many more have turned the music icon loved by generations into one of the greatest playback singers in the history of Indian cinema.

Having sung in many diverse languages, she adds to her magnificent journey by headlining an all-female line-up with Anuradha Paudwal, Alka Yagnik and Alisha Chinai with September concerts in Birmingham (21) and London (22).

Ahead of the forthcoming shows, the much loved star discussed her action packed career, influences and love for live performance with Eastern Eye. She also gave key advice for aspiring singers and revealed her favourite songs.

How do you reflect on your music journey?

First, I’m really very grateful to God that he brought me into music because it has been the most satisfying thing in my life. Music has brought me all the best things in my life. I think without music, I would have been an absolute empty shell. I would like to thank God for every moment of joy that I have had in this amazing journey.

Did you ever imagine making such a big global impact?

I never really thought that I would be an extremely successful playback singer, sing so many songs, and work with all the best music directors in the field from mine and the previous generation, and some from the next generation. When I think about all that, once again, I must thank God. I had very good gurus, and very good people from whom I could imbibe and learn so much about music. Without them, I don’t think my knowledge would have been sufficient enough to handle jingles, bhajans, ghazals and film songs.

Tell us about those you have learned from.

I have had good gurus, including people who trained me in classical music and so many music teachers I learned from. My very first teacher is Sri Balram Puri, to whom I give my koti koti pranams. Not only did he teach us the basics of classical music, but also made us love music deeply. For that, my pranams to him and to all the other teachers. Then, of course, music directors like Laxmikant Pyarelal, RD Burman, and great singers I sang with like Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey, with whom, singing on stage, I learned so much from. And of course, Mukesh Ji and Talat (Mahmood) Saab, all these people from whom I learnt a lot in life and about music.

How do you feel about the fact you are regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time?

To tell you the truth, I have heard so much of great music from the time I was born, including great classical musicians and wonderful playback singers like Lata Ji (Mangeshkar), Asha (Bhosle) Ji, Manna Da, Kishore (Kumar), Mukesh Ji, (Mohammad) Rafi Saab, everybody in that generation. After listening to them, when I became a playback singer, I never thought of myself as a very great singer. So, thank you for the compliment.

 

Which of your many hit songs is closest to your heart?

Well, some of my songs that come to mind include Hawa Hawai, Tu Hi Re, Dil Ne Kaha Chupke Se from 1942: A Love Story. The title track of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. The songs of Khamoshi, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and Devdas. I just love all these songs. I can sing them daily and never feel bored because the compositions are so beautiful.

The lyrics have been written so beautifully to fit the melody. Is there one song that is special for you?

One song that is really very dear to my heart is Dil Ne Kaha Chupke Se from 1942: A Love Story. Another song I really enjoyed singing was Kya Janoo Sajan for Dil Vil Pyar Vyar. I love both these songs.

You do slow ballads and dance songs equally well, but which do you prefer?

I love singing all kinds of songs, including slow ballads, and happy, cheerful dance numbers. I just feel if the song is beautifully decorated and a good composition with the lyrics that really match, then I enjoy doing them. But of course, the slower songs, the saddest songs, are close to my heart. I love singing them.

You bring the songs beautifully to life…

I have always worked with great filmmakers like Subhash Ghai, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and K Viswanath. When you work with them, they really explain what the scene is all about so well. You literally feel the scene is in front of you, and then try to live the part as much as you can. Then the final emotion comes through, wonderful artists like Madhuri (Dixit), Sridevi ji and Manisha Koirala, who project my voice so beautifully on screen, and with them the emotion comes out even better.

You are a hero for many, but who is your hero?

My foremost hero in playback singing has always been Lata Mangeshkar Ji. From the time I was a child, I would hear her songs on the radio. If I heard songs I loved like Allah Tero Naam, Lag Jaa Gale, Naina Barse, and Teri Yaad Na Dil Se Ja Saki, I would come running and listen to them. Even at seven or eight, I would be amazed at the perfection that I could see from the singer’s voice. Manna Da, who was able to project classical music so beautifully in film songs that even the most common man who doesn’t understand music would be able to love it. So, these two have been my foremost heroes.

Lead Kavita Krishnamurthy vitaLead Kavita Krishnamurthy vita

Which other singers influenced you?

Then, of course, I have Hemant Kumar Ji, with whom I have worked, and have seen his simple and great approach to singing, as well as melodies. So, all the singers of that generation. In my childhood, I used to love listening to Ustad Amir Khan Saab, later on Kishori Amonkar, and then the great ghazal singer, Madhurani ji. They are all my heroes.

Which of your many awards has meant the most?

I would say the one that gave me maximum happiness because my both my mother and my aunt were alive to hear about was my Padma Shri Award, which I got from President APJ Abdul Kalam. And then, of course, my very first Filmfare Award for 1942: A Love Story. That was a very emotional moment, and we were all missing Pancham Da (RD Burman) so much on that evening.

You are admired globally, what key advice would you give to a young singer?

My advice to all singers is just look into your heart and pursue music in an emotional, honest way, because there are no shortcuts. When people say that you can succeed with just luck, it’s not true. It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. You must be very focused and practice a lot. Without practice in any field, I don’t think you can be perfect. So please don’t use technology too much when practising. Use technology in the studio, but at home please practice as honestly, and sincerely as you can.

You have achieved so much, but do you have any unfulfilled music ambitions?

As far as music is concerned, if I’m able to continue the path in music for a few more years of my life, I will be grateful. There’s nothing that I would like to ask God, because I think he’s given me more than I really thought I would get in life. Fortunately, I’m married to a wonderful musician, Dr L Subramaniam, who is a great violinist – when he sits and practices his raga at home, I just feel totally fulfilled. So as long as I can stay in the path of sur and taal, I don’t ask for anything more from life.

How much does life performance mean to you?

I enjoy live performances. But, I must tell you my first love has always been recording in a big studio with all the music directors and musicians together. In the early days there were all these studios; singing with sometimes 60–100 musicians live. That was amazing and the best journey of my life.

What about being on stage?

When it comes to live performances, initially, I was not very happy doing them, because I was very scared of audiences. But now I’ve got over my fear and enjoy it so much because I get different kinds of responses from different audiences from around the world.

How much are you looking forward to your UK shows in September?

I’m definitely looking forward to my concerts in UK. I’ve always felt the audiences in UK are very educated, and wonderful. They listen to all kinds of music, and never disturb an artist. So, I’m really looking forward to singing in London, along with my three fantastic colleagues, Anuradha Paudwal, Alka Yagnik and Alisha Chinai. What a joy!

What is it like being on an all-female line-up?

They are all my friends and have been colleagues for many years. With two of them, there were many times, when we used to sing at live recordings, and spent many hours in the studio, chatting and eating together. We’ve travelled together and done concerts. It’s always nice meeting them again. Though we’ve not had time to be best friends, we’ve always been cordial to each other. It’s going to be a joy to meet them, and meeting Alisha also.

What inspires you?

Wonderful music inspires me. When I listen to concerts of other people, hear great music, and listen to artists whom I’ve admired all my life. Now, when I’m sitting at home and hear my husband playing the violin for hours practising his classical music, it really inspires me a lot.

 Why do you love music so much?

I’m blessed that I got this love for music from the time I was born. I was in a family atmosphere where everybody loved music. I love music because I think music is very important for the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth of any person.

Rewinds Queens concert is at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham on September 21 and OVO Arena in London on September 22