INDIA: Singer-Songwriter Kumar Atul recently released a titled Sufi Ghazal titled “Rangreza”. Released by Hungama Artist Aloud, the Sufi Ghazal is now available to stream on Hungama Artist Aloud, Hungama Music, and all major music streaming platforms. A versatile artiste, Atul pens soulful ghazals, thought-provoking nazms, and peppy pop songs.
In an exclusive interview with Transcontinental Times, Kumar Atul talks about “Rangreza”, his love for Sufi Ghazals, multilingual talents as a lyricist, influences and upcoming projects.
Q1. Tell us about your ghazal “Rangreza”. What is it about? What are you trying to convey through it? Who all have collaborated on it?
Kumar Atul: “Rangreza” is very special to me in many ways. At the time of the pandemic, everyone was getting impacted by one way or the other and everyone had started to question their god that why is the good doing all this to them. Then this thought came to my mind that there is no need to complain to god. That we must have faith; He is one who gives a problem and then later solves it for you, and happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain are a cycle and keep repeating. You should not feel bad when you get pain; instead have faith that God will fix everything.
This ghazal conveys the message that one must trust the almighty in all the situation, good or bad, pleasure or pain. He is there to solve everything and protect you. He first gives the pain to test you. He then gives to the solution. I would like to thank my mentor Abhijit Ghoshal Ji, who after reading the ghazal agreed to compose and sing this ghazal. I am grateful to him for completing this ghazal and making this possible.
Q2. How do you look at the tradition of Sufi Ghazal in India? How can its popularity be revived, especially amongst the youth?
Kumar Atul: Ghazals has been very popular in India since 5-6 decades. In recent years it has got further more popularity as Bollywood started using it extensively. Sufism is a way of life and gives people a reason and time to introspect. Current generation has got a very short attention span. This kind of a Sufi Ghazal gives people time and reason to be calm and focus on bigger aspect of life. It’s going to get more popular and in coming days and I see more independent artist creating Sufi Ghazals in the near future.
Q3. You are a trained singer as well as a lyricist. Which of the two do you find more challenging? How do you balance these two acts?
Kumar Atul: For me both art forms are a way of expression. In singing I sing what has been already created. However in lyrics and poetry writing I create something new. I give face to my expression, emotion and thought process. In the recent times I am enjoying lyrics and poetry writing slightly more than singing. But both have got its own challenges in terms of creative freedom of expression. However, if you are passionate about it, you will always try to overcome all the challenges and create a quality content which gives listeners some peace of mind, and that reward gives you satisfaction and fuel to keep working and create more quality songs and lyrics.
Q4. You started your professional journey in the corporate sector but you kept your love for poetry and music alive. How was your struggle like? What kept you going?
Kumar Atul: I started as an IT professional. However, music and poetry was always going hand by hand. Sometimes, it’s difficult to give more time to music and writing due to hectic schedules of corporate life. However when your artistic work touches the audience’s heart their love and appreciation gives you motivation to always keep going.
Q5. How the COVID-19 has changed the music scene? What, according to you, would be its long term impact?
Kumar Atul: COVID-19 has impacted everyone in many ways, and most of the impacts are negative and demoralizing. However, for music industry it gave one advantage as in last one year a lot of artists who were trying to tap on to their hidden talents since long finally got time and resources together to explore their hidden talent and put it across to the audience. The social media played a major role in last one year to give a great platform to independent artists to showcase their talent to the whole world. On one hand the physical live concerts have been reduced. However, on the other hand, the virtual live concerts have been increased which have compensated the former. By end of 2021, I assume we will get back to normal life, and physical concerts will also start again.
Q6. Your poetry offers an interesting blend of Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and English. How challenging is it to blend different languages while still keeping the lyrics relevant and meaningful? Also tell us about your process.
Kumar Atul: I was born in Allahabad and the importance of Hindi and Urdu to that holy city is no secret. So many great poets in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi belong to that place. I was fortunate to get exposed to poetry in all major language right from my childhood. I got to read good literature as part of my study curriculum and also due to passion for reading and writing I was always exposed to literary circles and good gurus from whom I learned the art of writing meaningful lyrics and poetry. I would like to thank Israr Ansari Ji, Nawaab Arzoo Ji, Syed Lateef Ji for giving me knowledge to write good quality lyrics and poetry.
Q7. Tell us about your influences and inspirations. What are your upcoming projects?
Kumar Atul: I am highly influenced by many poets from last couple of centuries and also many in contemporary time. I am highly inspired by Rahat Indauri Ji, Gulzar Ji, Basheer Badr Ji, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, John Alia, Nida Fazli to name a few.
By god’s grace and love from listeners I have few very good projects in the pipeline. I have written a nazm titled “Ummeed” which is also in the same line and gives a message of hope to everyone. It is composed and sung by a talented artist Shehroze Hussain. Another Ghazal “Haal- e-Dil” I have written and which is sung by our Shekhar Suman Ji and composed by Prasanna Mhaisalkar. One More Ghazal “Phir Se Us Mod Pe” which I have composed and written got released by Zee Music Company in January 2021 and that is sung by Jazim Sharma and Shubha Chaki. Another ghazal which I have composed and written is sung by Padmshree Hariharan Ji that’s very close to me heart. It would be released this month. There are some more exciting projects in pipeline, which I will be sharing with you in the coming weeks.
(Murtaza Ali Khan is a noted Indian Film & TV Critic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)