Sunita Vijay in conversation with Kailash Kher
His name doesn’t require any introduction. Every single note coming out of his melodious throat touches the deepest well of the listener’s heart. The unadulterated earthy voice, soulful tunes, rich lyrics, emotion-stirring rendition oozes with a miscellany of Sufism, pain, romanticism, devotion and divinity as per the song’s requirement. His voice creates a unique melody that possesses his signatory identity, admired and adored since the time his creations came into being. Kailash Kher, the youngest Padma Shri recipient in the field of Art, was in news for his differently styled birthday celebration. For the last three years Kher has been celebrating his birthday in a unique way. He unearths hidden talent that performs on stage in front of a huge gathering in the presence of the who’s who from varied fields. Through the initiative, which began as ‘Nayii Udaan’ in 2017 to discover talented performers and give them an opportunity to display their abilities to the world, presented by an artist of Kailash Kher’s stature, is selfless expression that is generally not practiced by renowned artists as it threatens their own niche. “Birthdays are generally celebrated by cutting a cake and blowing out candles. Instead of blowing out candles, I want to light many lamps of talent by searching, nurturing and mentoring budding artists in the field of music that would otherwise extinguish if not guided and helped adequately.” The guests who attended the grand celebration received a tree sapling as a return gift, an environment friendly gesture to promote tree planting. Kailash Kher’s commendable action and grounded statement clears the air. He believes that giving back to society is our duty not charity. “I am blessed to receive so much love and recognition from society, now it’s my time to give back. We have been able to launch three bands in the last three years. This year, we shortlisted five bands out of 5000 plus entries to perform on stage on my birthday and out of these, two or three will be groomed further to rise and shine in this field.” Kailash Kher has mentored and curated three bands – ‘Sreekant Surfira’, ‘AR Divine’ and ‘Sparsh’ – that perform contemporary music, Ghazals and Sufi rock. A firm believer in promoting India’s culture and values, Kher adds, “I am not promoting promising artists by inviting entries through a digital campaign (DOT- Discovery of Talent) and giving them a chance to perform on my birthday to win brownie points. I aim to make their journey rewarding, which begins here, and to select the right course. Many genuine talents are rejected, dejected and discouraged, initially. I have myself faced it. ‘Log ustaadon se seekhten hai, maine haalat se seekha hai’. Life’s struggle has taught me many things, foremost being to be a humble, grounded and a good human being. Now, I am in a position to be a guiding force to many deserving singers. And I am doing it.” A recipient of two Filmfare awards and many nominations, Kailash Kher has come a long way. His latest launch of the ‘Kailash Kher Academy of Learning Arts (KKALA)’, an online academy to provide formal training of music and art to budding artists was launched on his birthday with the intention of propagating the heritage of Indian music in its true form. The plan is to start the academy in every major city very soon, including those in Uttarakhand. Kailash Kher has many exemplary laurels in his bag. The ‘Allah ke bandey’ singer added, “Sangeet mar gaya hai, shor badh gaya hai. There is a dearth of good music. Our country has immense talent, but the talented people are directionless and unguided. I want to be the hand to guide their course in the right direction. Many aspiring artists are being misguided by agents and brokers during their struggling phase. Wrong guidance robs them of their humility. The moment singers becomes a star, the falling limelight blinds them totally. He/she loses humility. My aim is different. I want to present soulful music through real talent to my country, music that should not remain unheard. The goal is to not just to make a music seeker a successful star but a good human being, a modest person and a devoted artist.” Having sung a thousand plus songs in various languages, his appealing voice, unique style of singing blended with classical Indian music, folk language and Sufi music, Kailash Kher has always created magic and he continues to mesmerise his fans. For him, at the end of the day, the mission is not what he has or what he has accomplished or who he has lifted up but what and how much he has given back to society. It’s more of a thankful gesture.