Kavita Seth’s voice is melody personified with her soul-stirring tracks like Iktara (Wake Up Sid), Mora Piya (Raajneeti), Jeete Hai Chal (Neerja) et all, staying with you long after the release of the film. The credit for which goes to the personal touch that she adds to every song that she has ever sung.

Known for making Sufi music popular in Hindi cinema, the singer has now has lent her voice for the Vidya Balan starrer Begum Jaan. The song ‘Prem Mein Tohr’ holds a special place for Kavita as the legendary Asha Bhosle has sung the same song and both the versions have been retained in the film. Here’s what she shares about her recent song, her approach to music and more.

Kavita Seth

Kavita Seth

You’ve been instrumental in making Sufi music a part of mainstream Bollywood films. What do you think brought about this change? 

It is always heartening to hear this. My journey with Sufism started when Mr. Seth introduced me to Rumi and his magical world. Since then I connected instantly to the genre of music and have been looking to spread its reach to each and every corner of the world. The universe has been kind enough to give me songs that stay with people. Music has no boundaries and the world of Internet has played a very important role in letting artists share and learn from artists across the world. Bollywood, I believe, has also greatly benefited from this boon.

Sufi music touches people’s souls and I think that is one of the sole reasons it has become immensely popular with the audience.

How have you seen Sufi music evolve in these years? What changes have you seen in the kind of Sufi songs being made?

The genre of Sufi music has been popularized even among the younger generation, thanks to Bollywood’s reach. Otherwise how often would you even hear someone say “I love Sufi music”. Hardly ever. Many film songs are genuinely celebrating the divine spirit of Sufi music.

Having said that, I sometimes cringe to hear a lot of songs that pretend do be Sufi songs by just using words like ‘Maula’ and ‘Khuda’.

Tell us about your latest song from Begum Jaan. How would you define the track?

I feel absolutely wonderful to have lent my voice to Vidya Balan who is such a talented artist. This is for the first time that I have collaborated with Anu Malik and it was a great experience.

‘Prem Mein Tohre’ is a truly melodious track. Our legend Asha Bhosle ji has also sung the same song and both our versions have been retained in the film. Such an honor for me.

Kavita Seth

Kavita Seth

What sets the track apart from the songs you’ve sung till now?

Each song is special and has a memory that makes the journey more beautiful. From this one I am rejoicing the fact that a living legend like Asha Ji has also sung the same song in the same film.

Especially for a film, does the actor that you’re lending your voice to also influence your singing?

I think this is very subjective. For instance I didn’t know the actors, the picturization of the song when I recorded ‘Tum Hi Ho Bandhu’ from Cocktail. I simply connected with the poetry and enjoyed the melody of the song, swam deep into it and sang it. I was pretty excited to see such a young setting of the song in the film. So it is all about the words, the emotion you lend to the song.

What is your preparation process before recording a song (for a film)?

Firstly, I need to spend enough time with the lyrics of the song. They have to become a part of you for you to emote naturally and beautifully. Post that, of course the melody is something you need to blend yourself into and add your own touch to the way you sing it. Then it is all about how the Director and Music Director want the output of the same, along with your own magic.

Also, how important is it for you connect to the lyrics and music before actually singing the song?

I do not agree to lend my voice to any song whose lyrics do not appeal to me. My parents have rightly named me Kavita. (smiles)

Do you wish to explore songs that are different from the Sufi genre?

Absolutely. Why not ! I am all for new sounds, collaborations. My only criterion is, it has to touch my soul.