A real song never disappoints
- (Kailash Mehra (Sadhu) in conversation
with Dileep Kumar Kaul)
Sentinel, Jammu, October 15-31, 1994
Q: When did you start singing?
A: I was in class 3rd in Devaki Arya Putri
Pathshala, Hazuri Bagh, Srinagar. On Saturdays the students would do
cultural programmes and in one of these programmes my teacher Mr.
Swarup Nath Sapru sent me on to the stage to sing. For a moment I
could not understand a thing but then I sang a Bhajan and from that
day I knew that I could sing.
Q: Then you had regular training?
A: In the beginning I learnt at school. Then Mr.
Shambhu Nath Sopori groomed me in the Indian classical music. What I
am today is because of him.
Q: You were from a Dogra family, how could
you be so conversant in Kashmiri songs?
A: My forefathers lived in Kashmir. I too have
lived in Kashmir since I was a little child. The language was never a
problem. When I was in school, Asha Bhonsle had sung a Kashmiri song
'Lalas vantay chhu sawal'. My Guru Sopori Sahib made me learn it and
also the famous Ghazal of the noted Kashmiri poet Abdul Ahad Azad i.e.
''bedard lolaki Bahana kari kari'. I sang this song on many occasions.
Q: In the early seventies you sang two songs
'Karsa myon nyay ande' and 'Mas bu gosay rat ke pyalay hano'.
These proved big hits. People still remember these songs. How could
you get that 'Kashmiriness' into these songs?
A: It is the Kashmiri folk element which made
these songs famous--the feeling which is Kashmir and which flows
through my arteries and veins.
Q: But these were solo songs. Do we have solo
singing in Kashmiri folk music?
A: Yes, primarily in Sufiana music. Many
of the compositions I sang were in Sufiana music. In group singing
also there are moments when every body does not know the song. So a
singer sings and all others follow. In Kashmiri Pandits there were
professional 'wanwun' singers who would tell the ladies what to sing
and then sing with them. So there is ample scope for the solo singing.
Q: Why is the folk song so important?
A: Because the folk song is the real song, and a
real song never disappoints you.
Q: What do you mean by a real song?
A: A real song is the song of the people.
At the core of any folk song, there is a call for the people, call for
them to join the song. If a singer grasps the essence of this call, it
is very easy to communicate with the people.
Q: Then how can we differentiate between the
folk songs of different places?
A: To live in this world we need to
communicate with each other. A man has to call another man. This call
varies from individual to individual, from society to society and from
time to time. For example, a Kashmiri will never call you the way a
Dogra does. It is the specific way of calling which makes the song of
a particular place. It is the call of that place.
Q: Today when our community in exile is
facing the worst times of history, what are the possibilities for our
A: There is tremendous pain and agony. We cannot
but sing the song of pain. Like our lives, our music also needs an
establishment, an identity.
Q. You mean the song of pain will give an
identity to our music?
A: The song of pain is everywhere. Even our
marriage songs have something of it. Our literature in exile is full
of the songs of pain. The artist is the pulse of his times. He cannot
escape the pain, agony, struggles and even the joys of his times. And
if he does not respond, future will question him, his very being as an