BENGALURU: It wasn’t until Kashmiri folk singer Abha Hanjura made it to the finals of a reality show did she realise that music was her calling.
Having worked in media until then, she had only learnt Hindustani music sporadically. “Formal training isn’t everything and the fact that I didn’t have any never came in my way. You need to have the gift,” Abha says.
Today, she learns Western Pop under Neecia Majolly at Bengaluru’s Majolly Music Trust. “I’m taught to care for my voice and technique. It’s wonderful,” she shares.
Along with her band, Sufistication, she has done shows in cities across the country. This weekend, she will perform the Bengaluru premiere of the live leg of her experimental web project as part of Fakiri at Phoenix Marketcity.
“The music will be a blend of Kashmiri folk, Sufi and modern sounds. We will have artistes playing traditional instruments like rubab and santoor alongside drums and acoustic guitar,” she explains.
While the band has incorporated film music into its performances in the past, it won’t be the case this time. “The goal is to create space for authentic Sufi music in the mainstream. And Fakiri is the best platform for experimentation. People won’t come to a folk music festival expecting Bollywood tunes, would they?” she says with a chuckle.
The folk festival brings together folk artistes from various parts of the country to perform in the city over two weekends.
The artiste has lived and performed in the city for several years now, and that puts her and the band at ease. “People have loved us here. I look forward to seeing how they respond to our new work,” she says.
While most songs will be in Kashmiri, Abha is confident that the audience will get past the language barrier and appreciate the music. “People today don’t care about who the artiste is or which language they are singing in. The way you treat the music is all that matters,” she says.
As an independent musician, is she worried about competition with Bollywood? “I think it is pointless to try and fight Bollywood. They have money and stars on their side. What we independent musicians do, we do for passion and satisfaction. And we have plenty of competition amongst ourselves,” she opines.
“Besides, there will always be a drunk guy in the audience -- among hundreds of people who love our original music -- who asks to hear Sheila Ki Jawaani. It’s part of our lives. What can we do?” she adds with a laugh.
Abha, in pictures taken at her shows, is seen donning traditional Kashmiri clothes. The headgear, she says, is handcrafted with Kashmiri embroidery. She believes the costumes add to the feel the music creates.
This time too, we gather, she has a plan. “I have been working closely with my designer Aloka D’Souza. I hope it pans out,” she says, refusing to divulge more information. “You will have to come to the performance and see for yourself,” she says.