To Kashmir, with love

A new song by Anushka Manchanda, who shot to fame as a member of an Indipop girl group, and city-based Khalid Ahamed, celebrates the beauty of the Valley
Anushka Manchanda. (Photo | Saptarshi Mukherjee/EPS)
Anushka Manchanda. (Photo | Saptarshi Mukherjee/EPS)

BENGALURU: What do you do when a place you visit takes your breath away? Singer-songwriter Anushka Manchanda knew she had to capture Kashmir’s beauty through a song, penned as a love letter that pays an ode to the Valley, after her visit there in 2015.

The newly-released song, also called Kashmir, took the musician – who has worked on it under her alter ego identity of Nuka – a total of five years to make, with her making multiple visits to the territory to perfect her project.

“It started with me going there for a friend’s wedding in 2015. I fell in love with the place and came back to write a song. When I went back in 2016 to shoot the visuals for it, I felt like the track no longer did justice to the footage and then I reworked it,” she says, explaining how the process went on and she returned to the Valley in 2017, in its coldest time of the year, for more footage. “I started reworking on the track again and made 8-9 versions but I was just not satisfied with it, since it did not do justice to the beauty of Kashmir and what I had experienced there,” says Manchanda. 

In March this year, she got in touch with Bengaluru-based band Parvaaz’s vocalist Khalid Ahamed. Speaking about their collaboration, Manchanda says, “I cried when he sent me the two rough takes he had worked on. He caught exactly what the song was missing.” The bilingual track has her singing the English portions, while Ahamed croons the Urdu lyrics of the song. “When the band Parvaaz initially started singing in Urdu and Kashmiri we didn’t hesitate because we believed that music is a language on its own and can transcend boundaries,” says Ahamed, who hails from Kashmir.

He adds, “This song brought back memories of home. Because no matter where I am, I will remain connected to my roots.” The six-minute-long song, which also features Rabab player Sufiyan Malik, is accompanied by visuals, all shot by Manchanda, when she visited Kashmir during the cold winter months. “We’ve all seen pictures of the place when it is in full bloom or during autumn.

But this was a different visual. There’s so much beauty even when everything is dying during those months,” she says, adding that she wants to use her art to talk about the important things. “This planet offers us so much and we realise it needs help but for some reason, it’s not the most important thing for us. This should be a priority for us. And we need to save our future.”

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The New Indian Express