Exclusive interview with Divya Kumar the singer
Divya Kumar: You learn a lot of things while working.
I have known Divya for a bit more than a year now.
So this is the guy who sang Maston Ka Jhund, Chanchal Mann, Shubhaarambh and many more recent chartbusting ballads. But between us, it’s funny… we don’t share that journalist-rockstar Bollywood musician bond… we’re more like crazy friends who have known each other for ages and can talk endlessly about heartbreaks, movies and Gujarati food!
But that’s probably because Divya is what he is… very down to earth, simple and a foodie! And yes, truly a good soul …which is what makes him so well liked in the Industry.
So what and how did Divya make his entry to Bollywood and go on to sing some very remarkable numbers… well in a quick interview with the upcoming rockstar musician we find out exactly how!
PT: First up Divya, what’s your story? How did you set foot in the industry?
DK: STORY? Wow feels like I’m gonna wrIte my autobiography right here right now! Ok…apart from these jokes, I belong to a musical family starting from my grandfather PT Shivram ji who at the very young age of 16 got his first movie as a composer, most of his movies were with V Shantaram.
He had 8 children… and yes everyone is into music! My uncles and aunties have been in this industry for decades!
However I never got the opportunity to feel the love of my grandparents. If at all my grandfather was alive I think my success would have been something else.
My dad, Bhagwan ShIvram, a musician (dholak player) has worked with a lot of the mainstream and influential artists from the music Industry… so from RD Burman … Jatin Lalit and Himesh Reshamiya,
I have been always fascinated with what my dad did as a living from a very young age… I think when I was 2 years old I started playing drums. I even have a trophy which I won during Navratri (as my family say). Somehow music always surrounded me.
Initially I wanted to be a drummer. In fact it’s still my passion… a little bit more than singing… but when I was 8, mom discovered that I could sing and so she started the struggle with me. So we’d go places… there were many live shows, child artist groups and I got into one those groups and through that I got this dream chance to work with Padmashree Kalyanji Anadji’s Little Wonders group. Here’s where I learned the basics of everything from singing to discipline to all… It was an institute I was fortunate to be a part of and… I have had my best memories with Kalyanji Anandji… we travelled half of the world when I was just 9 … we felt like stars that time with fans going crazy! It was cool and crazy all at the same time!
PT: Has it been an easy ride or would you say it’s a struggle? Would you say you’re one of the lucky ones, having a family who has roots in music?
DK: Struggle started as I started growing up, once you’re past your kid stage you need to prove yourself no matter what. It was surely not an easy ride, being from a musical family is the most difficult part! I have never had singing lessons it was God’s gift or my dadaji’s gift you could say. Dad always felt I should learn, not take my singing for granted. He wanted me to get nourished with proper guidance, so dad took me to a lot of gurus who are legends of classical singing . They met me, they heard what I sang… and my father never once said to them where we came from or who’s grandson I was.
It was only one day after an audition that this Guruji asked my father where I came from and who I was since they felt I could not have just picked this up like that. So it was like… Isko kya zarurat haI , yeh toh khandaani gaata hai! What I felt was they didn’t realize that khandaani gaana is ok but we, as singers or musicians need basic training to understand what singing is all about. Then I used to feel sad and tell my father… Agar dadajI hotey toh kItna achha hota humeIn yahaan wahaan bhatak ne ki zarurat nahi hoti. ‘
I always missed him in my childhood and will always miss him. So yeah it was surely not an easy ride. Till today, I avoid really telling people my family background… its only after my work is appreciated and people ask out of curiosity about where was I this long or have doubts about me not being from Mumbai… that’s when I tell them my history! And then I love their reaction!
PT: You have an unusual voice texture… which breaks away from the mould. But would you say that’s ever stopped you from singing? Or have you been told to tweak your voice to other styles?
DK: Voice texture is the most important thing in this current scenario…initially my vocals developed with a sufi and qawali texture. So I never thought that I could be a playback singer seriously. I had stopped bothering about being a playback singer as I felt there was no scope for me! And if I try to imitate legendary singers Like Uditji or Sonu bhaiya or even KaIlash Kher… Which I know I can’t! That wouldn’t help! Agar orIgInal haI toh duplIcate ko kaun bulayega!
I always hated people asking me- Aap kiski awaaz meIn gaate ho? That is annoying, merI khud kI ek awaaz hai main usi mein gaata hoon! And so now I’m glad we have music composers like Amit Trivedi, Sachin Jigar, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and many more younger musicians who are willing to experiment with their music.
I feel blessed being a part of this generation… and in the industry now… I feel this generation of the music industry is the best!
I’m grateful to Gulraj Singh for whom I sang my first Bollywood song movie Tutiya Dil, which unfortunately vanished but that song helped me believe that I could sing. And it is through that song that Amitji roped me in for the biggest song a newcomer for a Yash Raj movie could imagine! My dream production house… the feeling was out of this world!
PT: Where do you see yourself heading and where do you see the industry heading in the next few years? What about solo artists?
DK: Coming years? I had never thought of what has gone (Laughs)…. seriously for a person like me I take work as it comes , I don’t force myself to do things , nowadays on the work front people are transparent, as in its more on the face kind of a thing. Aap ke liye koi gaana banega toh aapko zaroor yaad kiya jaayega. I’m not one of those people who constantly calls music directors to get in touch or just to give a work profile for what I have done or please audition me for your songs. There are thousands of songs which are being written and it’s not necessary that you should be able to sing all of them. Look for your genre or a song where you can use your voice. And use it to your best!
I had never imagined that in a year alone I would have four songs in four big movies.
What I want is for people to know me for whatever work I have or will be doing, be it years or just months.
Apart from singing I also have an interest In music programming which I’m doing for a quite a long time. It’s not the only thing I wanna do in life but yeah whatever in life I do is related to music!
Solo artistes do have a bright future as we all have youtube and other social media platforms…these are the biggest free production houses for people who want to reach out to the world with their singles and it has done wonders for a lot of music sensations across the world.
PT: Lastly, tell us your most memorable experience so far.
DK: There’s one thing I would like to share about my biggest hit for me from last year, Maston Ka Jhund. It’s the biggest song for me from the historic Bhaag MIlkha Bhaag. When I got a call for thIs song I was not 100 percent fit vocally to sing I was down with a bad cold, but didn’t want to give up…obviously no one would want to lose such an opportunity!
So I said to myself, I’m gonna do this! When I started to record… I didn’t feel so comfortable, then Shankarji gave me the confidence that I could sing… Ehsaan and Loy Sir backed me up!
And guess what… I sang the entire song… and yes, it topped the charts!
You learn a lot of things while working. And that’s what I say about my work, that I get paid to learn in this industry and I love it!
‘Divya Kumar features as one of the new emerging Bollywood artists in Radio Mirchi Surat’s Love Music Mirchi with RJ Rahil as part of the Valentine week music special.’