In Kashmir, music was not considered good: Singer Saim Bhat

Gulmarg : He is the voice behind popular Hindi song “Dil sambhalja zara” from “Murder 2” that rocked the music charts last year, but Kashmiri singer Saim Bhat says his journey was rocky as he had to be a rebel to follow his musical dreams.

“In Kashmir there is no entertainment. The militants and the politicians have left nothing for entertainment,” Saim, who also has his own band named Oak, said during an interview.

“In Kashmir, music was not considered to be good, it was considered to be against the religion. Like any parents of Kashmir, my parents didn’t love music. I got into it (music), as I was a rebel. I used to play with a friend, Humayun Mirza. I used to be a vocalist and he used to be a guitarist.

“Humayun left Kashmir due to the circumstances that were prevalent in the state at that time and went to the UK. That was the time I decided I will create my own music,” he added.

But organising a music concert in the scenic locales of Kashmir was a far cry as people weren’t interested in sponsoring his show.

“When I did my first gig, I went to the sponsors but didn’t get any money. So, I had to sell some of my own stuff to raise funds and after the performance there was a bomb blast and we were back to square one,” said Saim.

Militancy and terrorist insurgency are known to have instilled fear in people in the Kashmir Valley, which forced the 28-year-old singer and his family to move to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

“We belonged to a middle-class family and militants used to come at home and ask for money. So it was difficult to live in such conditions and that’s the reason our family shifted to Riyadh. Music was not even allowed in Riyadh, but I still played. I was even caught by the cops once,” he said.

After that, the singer went to Mumbai and music composer Bappi Lahiri gave him a break in 2009 in the film “Jai Veeru”.

“I was in Bombay and played just for 5 to 10 minutes at a concert organised by Mushtaq Nadiadwala and there Bappi Lahiri spotted me. He gave me my first song ‘Sufi tere pyaar mein’ from the film ‘Jai Veeru’,” Saim, who also performed at the recently concluded maiden edition of the Gulmarg Winter Festival, recounted .

“After ‘Sufi tere pyaar mein’, I have seen many Kashmiri bands performing. They felt that if one person can do it, then why can’t we do it. The idea is to involve the young talent into it,” he said, adding: “Now things are improving and people are foraying into music.”

The singer is now looking forward to his work with the Mozart of Madras, A.R Rahman.

“I have worked with Rahman sahab and the tracks would be out soon,” he said.

Currently he working on “Aashiqui 2”.

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