A well-known face of Hindustani classical music, Shubha Mudgal has found favour equally with the puritan connoisseurs as well as the youth. Both criticized and savoured for her unconventional approach of experimentation, undeniably the rich voice of this vocal virtuoso has produced scintillating music. In Delhi to mark the death anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, this singing diva spared time for a hearty chat with Akrita Reyar of Spicezee.com. Akrita: You said you were a devotee of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz… Shubha Mudgal: Oh! Yes. Absolutely. He means so much to me. Probably, more than any inspiration that I have ever had.
Akrita:What is that quality that you like in Faiz? Shubha Mudgal: Well, I would say the conviction that Faiz had and the kind of belief and fearlessness. He inspires all those who are studying music to speak their mind. One bad episode in life can make a person give up on some of values that he holds dear. It can have an impact on your way of life and work, but this didn’t apply for Faiz. He was an artist himself and that is why he is such a huge milestone for all of us.(chokes with emotion) Faiz withstood all challenges and difficulties and continued to speak about things that he believed in. He was completely fearless. It is this quality in him that continues to inspire and give strength even after his death. Any artist would want that. Akrita: Which is of his ghazals id your favourite and why? Shubha Mudgal: There are so many, but if I were to say any one, then it would be: Aaiiye haath uthaayen hum bhi Hum jinhen rasm-e-dua yaad nahin Hum jinhen soz-e-mohbbat ke siva Koi buut, koi khuda yaad nahin I admire Faiz because he is so pertinent in our strife-torn times. Because he holds meaning in this terror-riddled world. He is the voice of truth and peace. Akrita: You have been taught by many music teachers. Which Gharana do you feel you belong to? And whose legacy do you think you are carrying forward? Shubha Mudgal: No, I don’t see it like that. And I don’t thing think that I belong to a particular Gharana alone. Legacy is something for critics to worry about. I do not think that I am carrying forward any single legacy. My music draws from all sources. What is important for me is that I got trainings and experiences from so many gifted sources. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be in the presence of such wisdom and scholarship. Akrita: You have had to face criticism for experimenting with classical music. Does that sadden you sometimes? Shubha Mudgal: Absolutely not. I have never been hurt. Whenever I have introspected or examined myself and my work, I have asked the question: Am I perfect? And the answer is constantly ‘No’. When I myself feel that I have so many shortcomings, then if critics point out to my imperfections, what is really wrong with that! Akrita: How has your experience with Bollywood been like? Shubha Mudgal: Well, it has been short. I have had very little experience in Bollywood, but whatever it has been, has been fun! (with a twinkle and a smile) Akrita: `Ali More Angana`, `Ab Ke Sawan` became iconic classical-modern renditions. Is that your way of attracting the youth to your music? Shubha Mudgal: No, not at all. No piece of work can be categorized as having been formulated for some particular category. It does not work like that. You can never say that this will work with the youth or something else will for the serious classical music listener. When I work, I work for the joy of it. And if it becomes successful with someone or the youth, that’s wonderful. The point at the end is to enjoy. Akrita: Your son is a well-known rocker. How do you look at that? Shubha Mudgal: Yes, he is a rock singer. And I am very glad of it. I am happy that he sings. I am glad that he does what he believes in. It gives me happiness that, in whichever way that it may be, he is associated with music; which is so important.
Akrita: You had founded a music label. How is it doing? Shubha Mudgal: Yes. My husband and I have founded a music label – it is called Underscore Records Private Limited. It is doing very well. It has been in existence for 5 years now. When we started out we did not imagine that it will grow so big, so quickly. In the first year we had come out with two albums and now we have done 130. My husband and I both have very good relations with most people in the music industry. So we have been able to involve many artists and bring out good music. What we feel pleased about is not that it is our label, but that it pulls together so many people. It is exciting that the label has really worked as a catalyst around which so many people have had the opportunity to interact and work. The whole thing of doing things together is what gives me joy. Akrita: What occupies you and are we going to hear your new songs any soon? Shubha Mudgal: I have been very busy touring in India and abroad. I am in Delhi to mark the 25th death of Faiz sahib, then in Mumbai for a show and then again will be back for the Braj Mahotsav. From the Label… we are coming out with some classical music involving other artists. I, too, am working on something and shall come out with it, but would not like to make any announcement just yet. But yes, work is on. Akrita: You do a lot of live concerts as well as recordings. Which do you prefer? Shubha Mudgal: Well, both. Both have their plusses as well as challenges. Both teach you many things. But the things about Live performances is that it is not mechanical. You connect with the audience. It has a sense of excitement. I think the best thing about a Live performance is the vibe. Akrita: Any non-music passions? Shubha Mudgal: Food! Akrita: Do you cook? Shubha Mudgal: I do cook also. Not so much tough. But I am a real foodie! Akrita: At this stage in life, what does music mean to you? Shubha Mudgal: Music is my companion. Through good times and through bad, music is my constant companion.