‘Gulzar sahab is one of the most divine souls on earth’

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 21 June 2018

Reewa Rathod, daughter of Roopkumar and Sunali Rathod, who launched her debut single Maula, talks about collaborating with Gulzar, her parents and how she wants her music to go global

Music is in Reewa Rathod’s genes and why not? Both her parents — Roopkumar and Sunali Rathod — are celebrated classical singers. The young singer-songwriter has launched her debut single Maula, which she calls ‘different’. “It’s different because you don’t get to hear such tracks currently in the music industry. Maula is tribute to love and the video is surreal. It has lots of emotions and memories attached to me,” says Rathod while promoting the album. But what makes the track even more special is fact that it’s been penned by Gulzar. “I am doing the whole album with him. Maula is his favourite composition.” 

As for the album, Rathod plans to release it by the end of this year and in the run-up to it, she will release a single every month.  

It’s a huge honour for any new singer to work with the legendary poet and lyricist. Ask Rathod how the collaboration happened and she replies, “Gulzar sahab is one of the most divine souls on earth. Working with him is a dream come true. I know him since childhood as I used to visit his house with my father. He has always been very fond of me but he did not know that I could compose music. I played him some of my songs and he was very happy. In fact, he was very surprised and said that my compositions are very unique and have a different style.” 

Rathod says that she requested the poet to write a song for her but Gulzar sahab suggested that they should work on an entire album together. “It was a prestigious moment for me.”

She says working with him taught her several things, on professional and personal level. “He always tells, ‘Have perfection’. I too believe in it. You need 100 per cent perfection in your work. You need to believe in your work,” says the singer who made her first public performance as the opening act at Bryan Adams concert in Pune in 2011, where she sang her own song Crossing Limits.

While Rathod’s father Roopkumar is a well-known singer, musician and music composer, her mother Sunali is a known playback singer. The couple has worked on several films and independent projects along with doing live performances. Not many know that Rathod is also granddaughter of Late Pandit Chaturbhuj Rathod of classical Dhrupad tradition. The young singer says that there’s pressure to carry forward the family legacy. “People are expecting so much from me because my parents are big celebrities. I am trying to live up to those expectations,” she says. 

Her parents, on the other hand, are always supportive of whatever she does in life, she says. “They never imposed anything on me; or asked me to sing a particular style or genre. They are convinced about whatever I do and have faith in me and my work,” Rathod says, adding, “But they are clear about one thing — they will guide me but I have to choose my own path.” 

So does it help when you have established names in the family or does the pressure increase because you have to constantly remind yourself to live up to their popularity and talent? “The pressure becomes double,” says the singer, adding, “But the good side is that I have access to studios and different musicians whom I would like to work with. I met Gulzar sahab through my parents.” 

Although she comes from a family of classical musicians, Rathod wants to create music internationally. “I want my music to be heard worldwide, whether it’s Hindi or English. Maula too has an international touch to it — it’s a blend of Western and Indian vocals. There are different vocal techniques used here,” Rathod says. 

She adds that her music is quite healing and one can relate to different emotions. As for taking steps towards her international dreams, she also composed a track for Spanish film Rastres De Sandal starring Nandita Das and Aina Clotet. 

Rathod has trained in both Carnatic music and Western classical piano from a young age. She has also been trained from Royal School of Music, London. She says learning two diverse genres of music style has helped her improve her singing techniques. “I can easily blend these techniques. The more you learn, the more you grow as a musician. My parents tell me, ‘Never stop learning’,” says the singer who is also ecstatic about her upcoming project with tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain and renowned saxophonist Chris Potter.

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