Kavita Krishnamurthy during a concert
(Written by Ajinkya Kawale)
With renditions of Vaishnava jan toh tene kahiye, made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, to the Meera bhajan Jo tum todo, singer Kavita Krishnamurthy has been performing at Delhi’s Siri Fort auditorium to Pune’s Ganesh Kala Krida Manch as part of the 29th Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival.
The festival, a collaboration between Vishwakarma University and Lakshminarayana Global Centre of Excellence in Pune, featured Krishnamurthy and violinist L Subramaniam along with the Symphony Orchestra of Castile and Leon from Spain. The hall was packed with students of Vishwakarma University, among others. Excerpts from an interview:
Having begun your career quite early on, what changes have you seen in the trends of music over the years?
We used to have romantic, philosophical, happy as well as sad songs presented by a duo and had fewer item songs. We had to pronounce our words clearly. Those trends have changed drastically as it has now become an individualistic way of singing and pronouncing words. While we have Gulzar saab and Javed Akhtar saab now, I miss the great lyrics writers like Majrooh Sultanpoori and Sahir Ludhianvi. We had to be precise while singing. I managed to sing Hawa hawayi (Mr India, 1987) with the orchestra in one take but there were some songs that required seven takes. We had a team of 100-120 people including percussionists, violinists in a huge studio for recording a single song live, but today, songs can be recorded in a small studio too. Technology has brought a change in dubbing from the late ’90s. Now I have heard about recording a song phrase-by-phrase.
What different styles of songs did you observe during your early career?
Everyone had a unique style of singing. Mukeshji had a style of singing that anyone in the rural parts could connect with easily. Kishore da is loved for all his songs, especially romantic ones. Manna Dey is loved for his Laga chunri mein daag. Lata didi, Asha didi and Geeta Duttji were great and had a lot of confidence in their styles of singing. They had a great range and, as an artiste who would dub for her (record the scratch), I had to adapt to her range. For beginners like us, we had to undergo rigorous training.
What do you think about the concept of fusion?
I think my husband is the pioneer of fusion as he introduced the north-south duet and I have learned a few things about it from him. Apart from Pt Ravi Shankar and a few others, who performed with Western orchestras, few knew about fusion. There are improvisations with a change in harmony. If I have been asked to sing fusion, I’ll do it in my limits of Indian music. One can have mastery over fusion only if they are skilled in both Indian as well as western music.
Your grandaughter, Mahati Subramaniam, performed with Dr Subramaniam recently.
I want her to play the violin as well as sing. She likes to sing and owing to the legacy of violin in our family, I want her to be a good violinist. Music has given a lot to my family.
How has technology affected music?
Today, one can’t remember the verses or lines without taking the help of technology. Technology, along with social media, has distracted the talented pool of young artistes. They have to shoot and market the music, which renders lesser time for practising music. These jobs were earlier done by music companies and artistes would get enough time to practise. The present generation cannot ignore social media and needs to make use of it. Yet, barring these aspects, good music will be complemented as good. Good artistes work for a lifetime, unlike others who stay just for a couple of years. We know The Beatles and Michael Jackson for their impressive work even today.
What’s your opinion on remakes of songs?
Remakes are made consistently. While I’m not a fan of them, I think these remakes appreciate the original composition. They keep the song alive. Remakes aren’t bad but the process should happen in a proper manner. Excessive instruments should not interfere with the creation of it.
How do you think reality shows are helping artistes?
Reality shows bring deserving artistes in the limelight. These reality contests find out talent from the rural parts of the country and provide them with a platform. Without it, it is difficult for them to present their artform. I feel sorry for the artistes on these shows who are forgotten after a better artiste performs on the same platform. There are many positive aspects of these shows.
What message do you have for the youth of the country?
Everyone should stay positive and keep working. There’ll be challenges and barriers. One should learn lessons from them and focus on the happy side of it. Constant negative thoughts will manifest unhappiness. I have had great songs as well as songs that couldn’t perform well. I have focused on the good ones. Focusing on the positive things around will help destress. Keeping ourselves happy should be a priority. The present generation should do what interests them.