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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Kailash Mehra - singing her way to glory
- Deepika B. Thakur 
The Kashmir Times, Jammu, October 13, 1996

Deep in the heart of this universe of creation and immanent with it, there is a kind of throbbing of life. Music conveys to us a feeling of this heart-throb of universal harmony. When any powerful, rich voice takes over one gets lost in a kind of other worldliness. One such eminent singer is Kailash Mehra who spellbounds her listeners with her singing. Whether she is singing a bhajan, Ghazal or any other song her sonorous voice captivates all.

Gyrating tadns taking spirals instead of straight shapes strike with the force of a whiplash. Kailash Mehra who has carved a niche for herself among the versatile singers has an astounding breath capacity and control. Kailash's notes meander with increasing Vigour to a breath taking crescendo. She has taken to music in a spirit of devotion and whatever be the audience she is singing to Kailash's gifted voice amages all. At the end of her performance everyone leaves with a feeling of upliftment.

If a lilting voice sings a ghazal or bhajan that is both delicate and also touches the heart, then this is the voice of Kailash Mehra. She has established herself as a singer of repute.

What distinguishes this eminent singer from others is that she can sing in more than fifteen languages with perfection and it is difficult to believe that she doesn't know that language. For that she has to do a lot of 'riyaz' and concentrate on pronounciation of the language. In In Madras when she sang a Tamil song the listeners did not believe that she was from North. Of all the languages she finds Kashmiri and Tamil difficult. But before she sings in a particular language she does a lot of homework, like she understands the song, its true concept and what is the ambience in which the singer is expected to sing.

She got tremendous pleasure by singing Ved Pal Deep's ghazals in Dogri. She feels that there is great depth in his compositions and she really makes the concerts lively when she sings 'Unda Vaada Maa Yaa Saada Haa Kasoor ...' . Kailash has worked with famous composers of our state including Bhajan Sopori, Nasirullah Khan, Mohd Ashraf, T.K. Jalali, Krishan Langoo, Pritam Singh, Pardhuman Singh, Brij Bohan, Harish Kaila and Ravi Sharma.

Awards have been conferred on her since childhood when she started participating in music competitions. In 1993 she was honoured with 'Malika-e-Ghazal' in Ghazal contest organised by Jammu Vikas Sanstha. Dogri Sanstha also awarded her in connection with its Golden Juhilee celebration. She was also awarded as best singer by Sri Bhal Samarak Samiti Kashmir in 1988. In 1987 she was honoured as best singer by the Bakshi Memorial committee of J&K state. She also received the Mehboob Awami Funkara award from Sadiq Memorial Committee of J&K in 1981 and best singer of show songs by the Exhibition Committee of J&K state.

"Radio, TV and Cultural Academy have helped me to gain popularity and given me opportunities to exhibit my talent," says Kailash Mehra who has a passion for music and concentrates on it with devotion and dedication which is the secret of her success.

She has the distinction of having participated in music competitions and concerts organiseci by J&K cultural academy and having given sterling performances on Radio and Television in Kashmir, Jammu, Jullandhar, Delhi and other states of the country. She has performed not only in J&K but in Patna, Lucknow, Calcutta, Madras, Trivandrum, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Delhi.

Kailash also participated in 4th Festival of Music organised by Kashmiri Overseas Association of Great Britain in the year 1985 at London. She also featured as a playback singer of a TV movie 'Aarinimall ', ' Behta Sairab' and 'Mahan' besides other documentaries. She has sung major portion of three operas 'Vitasta', 'Himalya ka cheshmee' and 'Puja Baaj Payla' prepared by J&K cultural academy. Her recordings are in Dogri, Kashmiri, Urdu, Gojri, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Hindi, Persian, Bhaderwahi, Kannad, Tamil, Telugu and Bangla. Her E. P. of Dogri songs has been cut by Enarco Gramaphone Company, Calcutta and L. P. of Kashmiri songs extracted from Opera Vitasta.

Little did the child of class 3, a student of Devki Arya Putri Patshalla, Srinagar when she. sang a bhajan before distinguished audience, know that she would adopt singing as a profession. But before that she had to struggle a lot, Kailash had to learn classical music in its true essence. Little Kailash was determined and with her family encouragement; particularly her mother and her Guru's blessings she began her onward journey into this field. Swarup Nath Sapru, Pandit Shambu Nath Sopori, Bhajan Sopori, helped her to get the requisite training in classical music and nurture her talent. Mohammad Kallu as radio recordist helped her too when she started giving Radio programmes. She has post graduation degree in music and has graduated from University of Kashmir. She also has master's degree in vocal music frolll Prayag Sangeet Samiti Allahahad and from Punjab University, Chandigarh.

At present she is a Professor of music in MAM Govt Degree College, Jammu. She loves to teach the students of her college and anyone who wants to learn from her.

Kailash believes that 'Riyaz' is very important and does it as a regular routine everyday for two hours. This gives her satistfaction and she believes that she has yet to learn a lot.

About classical music Kailash says that this is the base and if you learn it, do 'riyaz' regularly then alone one can achieve excellence otherwise superficial knowledge does not help in the long run.

Even after winning thunderous applause from the audience when she sings, Kailash always feels that she could have sung better. This she reveals humbly without boasting of her melodious voice. She is lucky to have the cooperation of not only her husband who is her best critic but also of her in-laws particularly her mother-in-law. She has an audience at home too who appreciate her and thus help her in her struggle to achieve more success.


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Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. (KOA) is a 501c(3) non-profit, tax-exempt socio-cultural organization registered in Maryland, USA. Its purpose is to protect, preserve, and promote Kashmiri ethnic and socio-cultural heritage, to promote and celebrate festivals, and to provide financial assistance to the needy and deserving.

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