BENGALURU: Rekha Bharadwaj has just finished her two-hour long concert when CE meets her. During her recent concert organised by The Forum Shantiniketan Mall, the playback singer didn’t just sing her best numbers but also swirled around stage with an occasional thumka or two. But if she is exhausted, she shows no sign of it, and continues to be her chatty self, even offering us pistachios.
During the conversation, it becomes obvious that she is not any other celebrity, and doesn’t deny that her marriage to filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj helped launch her career. Though an established singer today, the Namak ishq ka singer says her success came remarkably slow. “When Vishal composed songs with other musicians, is when I understood how a composition worked. At times, he would make me sing certain compositions.
Maybe he did all that to make me industry ready,” she says with a smile.
The singer, who is a follower of Indore Gharana, began her performance with the song Naina thag lenge from the movie Omkara before proceeding to other songs. When asked about her love for Hindustani classical music, she recalls the numerous times she practised singing with her elder sister before she started her training under professional mentors. Till date, Bharadwaj chooses to sing classical pieces or ghazals at social gatherings. “I’m melancholic at heart. I think I was heartbroken in my last birth. That may explain my affinity towards ghazals.”
As the conversation drifts towards her love for Sufi music, she explains how Sufism is not any religion but a path of compassion and empathy. “We are all born in this world to give back what we receive. My Sufi song Tere Ishq Main seeks blessings for the universe,” she said, adding that she often turned to Sufism during disturbing times.
Recalling an instance, Bharadwaj spoke about making peace with the fact that Bollywood playback was not for her. Her husband was flourishing as a filmmaker at a time when she was being politely refused by various music directors. All this led to frustration, which Sufism helped deal with. “It imparted a different kind of silence within me, which I wish to pass on to the audience every time I perform.”
And it’s the lyrics that help her achieve this feat, helping her emote, feel and improvise a song. Unable to perform without a connection to the lyrics, Bharadwaj explains that this was why she had so much respect towards Gulzar. “Whatever he writes has so much life. I would have been a wandering soul if Gulzarji was not around.”