Few people do not really need much of an introduction as their work itself is their introduction. This is not a metaphor if we say so about Hemant Chauhan. He is the most popular and successful folk singer from state of Gujarat, India. He has sung around 6000 songs in total which includes folk songs, Garba etc. Purity of his heart truly gets presented in his voice. When he sings a folk song, he himself gets devoted to it in totality and hence the listener too feels the great devotion. He has won two awards as a Best Playback Singer for his songs in Gujarati films. For the performances of his programs, he has traveled various countries such as USA, UK, Japan, France, Greece etc.
In real life, he is a very down to earth person. Sometimes seem shy too. But those who know him closely knows that once you get near to him, he is very friendly. As a listener, we tend to believe that his voice has some divine touch. Such a devotion is rarely seen in this era of professional singing.
In this interview with SpeakBindas, he sheds light on part of his life when he wasn’t this successful, he talks about his views on importance of folk songs and also sings few of his very popular songs, exclusively for SpeakBindas viewers.
Videos of Interview
Excerpt of Interview
Q.: Today, people know you as a very popular and successful Gujarati folk singer. Would you please shed some light on that part of your life when you were in the process of becoming so?
I have not specifically learnt the art of music, but it is inherited in me as my father and grandfather, both were singers. When I was a child, when I didn’t know figures 1 to 10, I sang two folk songs in front of my teacher at school.
From there, I started receiving some scopes to represent my singing skills. But still I lacked an appropriate guidance to learn the music and singing skills. When I was in college, I joined a music institute. I was told that, there is no specific education provided to learn folk music, but the kind of music education is provided can be supportive to it. I joined it. I learnt Shastriy Sangit and found that, it really helped me to sharpen my skills.
Then, I started visiting villages, met saints, folk singers etc. and kept adding knowledge of folk singing. I used to listen to Radio station of Akashvani. While listening folk songs being played on it, I used to take note of its lyrics and then sing them my way.
I had a very specific ambition of becoming a folk singer. Honestly speaking, I had not even dreamt of achieving such a great success that I am enjoying today. My intentions were pure of becoming a good folk singer and I believe, such an intention has really helped me to become what I am today.
Q.: You have sung many folk songs so far. Which are your favorite ones among them?
Few folk songs of Dasi Jeevan Saheb such as “Mavani moralie mara manda herya re” and “Dekhanda aa dil ma koi Jhanan Jhanan Jhan Jhalri vage” are my favorites. I would like to say that no one has taught me these songs. While reading them, its composition was automatically created inside me. I sang them that way only and which are hit today. Other folk songs I like are of Meera, Kabir, Haridas and etc.
(Then Hemant Chauhan sings a very beautiful folk song….)
Q.: While hearing you singing a folk song, as a listener we get indulged into it so deeply. We feel that, you have totally devoted yourself to the particular song. Would you please tell us about your inner experience while singing it?
It is of great importance to note the nature of the song before singing it. Now that you are touched with my folk singing, just imagine that with how much devotion Meera would be singing her feelings in form of a song? Hence, as a folk singer, one must feel the nature and message of the song and get indulged into it in totality, by singing it from heart.
Q.: Apart from you, in your family who else is in the singing and music field?
My daughter, who is a teacher in a highschool, presently learns folk singing from me. She also learns Shastriy sangit in a local music college.
My son too learns organ from Kantibhai Sonsatra, who is one of the great musicians of our old generation.
You can tell that these are the primary preparations and in future we may together be singing for an album of folk songs.
Q.: Your programs are organized regularly at various places, both in Indian and abroad. How have been your experiences with the programs organized abroad?
There are two kinds of audiences abroad. One belongs to the old generation. They really like old folk songs as they are aware about even the 50 year old folk songs. They enjoy hearing such old songs.
Second audience is the young generation who are not into much touch with such old folk songs. So for them, I sing Garbas and other songs from folk music. Which infact is of light medium but they really like it. Music and singing is all about sharing the feelings of our heart.
Q.: Being so busy with programs and recordings, can you get enough time to spend with your family?
No, unfortunately can not give enough justice to it. We get achievement by giving up something. Hence, I have to give up spending more time with family, relatives etc. But atmosphere at my home has really been supportive to me. And let me tell you that, if I sing anything but folk song, not even a kid of my family would accept that. Such is the folk song loving atmosphere at our home.
Cupboard for musical instruments
Q.: Tell us about the various awards that you have been honored with so far.
I was awarded as a Best Playback Singer for the song “Jhanan Jhanan Jhalri vage” which I had sung for Gujarati film “Kesar Chandan, followed by another award in the same category for the song “Pankhida O Pankhida”. Government of Gujarat has honored me with the award of “Gujarat Gaurav”. I have also received various other awards for my programs in various countries such as France, Japan, and Greece etc.
Q.: How about Padmashree award? How do you feel about that?
Well, honors are not to be asked for. Its joy is in getting them the natural way. My biggest honor or award is that through folk singing I could reach to hearts of people. So like you have asked, even if I don’t receive any awards in future, it really won’t bother me. My prime intention is to spread the ancient tradition of folk singing.
Q.: What have you been given by folk singing?
It is incredible thing. Most important thing that folk singing has given me is devotion and reverence. Devotion is such a virtue that you don’t get it by becoming a millionaire or even the king of the world. You can have it only if you are blessed by the God Almighty.
Q.: You have met the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Tell us about that incident.
In the year 1968, she came to Rajkot. I was studying in 8th standard then in a school at Tramba. We students were taken to visit her. I had sung a song in her presence. Being impressed with me, she came near to me and asked “Son, what you want to be?” I couldn’t even speak anything then. As a remembrance of this incident, I have a photograph where in which she is standing beside me, which was taken by a journalist.
Hemant Chauhan as a kid wiht the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Q.: How many numbers of folk songs, Garbas etc. in total have you sung so far?
For last 20 years, I have been singing folk songs, Garba etc. on television, radio and for recording purpose. I have sung total of 6000 songs for recording purpose, among which around 1500 are ancient folk songs, 2000 Garba songs where as rest of the songs belong to various religious places and religions such as Satadhar, Virpur, Shreenathaji, Swaminarayan Bhagwan, Jain songs etc.
Apart from these, I have also sung songs which could change the bad customs of our society such as dowry, addiction etc. I believe that in addition to singing folk songs, I must also attempt to bring some evolution in our society and hence this effort.
(With a closing note, Hemant Chauhan sings one of his very popular song
“Pankhida O Pankhida..”)
Contact Hemant Chauhan
For any further information and program query, you can contact his son Mayur Chauhan: 97235 43448 (Rajkot, Gujarat).