Kirtidan Gadhvi is the most reknowned folk singer from Gujarat who has fans from across the state from all age segments. He’s the most popular male folk singer of Dayra, a program of Bhajans that is oganized at night. His song “Ladkee” in MTV Coke Studio brought him popularity nation-wide. He is one of the highly paid folk singers in Gujarat today, so both Goddesses Saraswati as well as Laxmi have showered their blessings upon him. And why not? He totally deserves it for all education and hard work he has done and shown in the field of music and singing.
In this interview, which is in Gujarati language, I’ve tried to get insights on his background in music and journey in the field, how he sees and manages mammoth success, his future ambitions, his inspirations, his most popular and widely appreciated song “Ladkee” and so on. I hope that his fans as well as music lovers will find this interview joyful. Moj.
Video Interview of Kirtidan Gadhvi
Transcription of the interview
Devang Vibhakar: Do tell us about your journey of achieving such great popularity in the field of folk singing.
Kirtidan Gadhvi: I am basically from the district of Anand, Gujarat. I used to study B. Com there. But as my heart belonged to music, I wasn’t much inclined to studying this course still somehow I managed to study it for two years. When I was in S.Y. B.Com I literary decided that I’m not going to study this course any further. And then after I took admission in Music college of M.S. University, Vadodara. Thus began my journey in the field of music. It has been 20 years since I’m performing and singing.
Devang Vibhakar: Does that mean that formal education in music cultivated this art in you?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: Not really. It was already there in me hereditary. But I do believe that if you really want to get success in the field of your choice, if you take upon formal education and guidance in that field, chances of getting success increases.
Music college in M.S. University, Vadodara is a very old institution of its kind in entire India. I did study there Classical music for five years.
Devang Vibhakar: During that time, had you ever thought about that you will receive such mammoth success?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: No. I had not even imagined that I will get this much success. But it was for sure my ambition that in whichever filed I should go, I should go fully prepared, work real hard until success is attained. And I’m still working hard.
Devang Vibhakar: At present, you are at top in the field of Gujarati folk singing. Your success is tremendous that it must be inspiring other young folk singers too. From this point on, what is your future ambition?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: In India we have some popular folk singing culture which is appreciated and listened world-wide like Rajasthani folk songs, Punjabi folk etc. then I always think in the line that why not Gujarati folk songs too should be appreciated at world stage? This has been my ambition for always.
One of my experiments in this line became successful. I had the opportunity to sing “Ladkee” song, composed by Sachin-Jigar. My co-singers were reknowned singer Rekha Bhardwaj and Tanishka, daughter of Sachin. It was a song depicting the pure love of father-daughter. The world took note of this song. This was one such song that I sung which has been highly appreciated by non-Gujaratis as well.
This was one such experiment in the line that why the world wouldn’t listen to Gujarati folk music? And it’s still my desire that by giving Gujarati folk music a fusion treatment make it available to Global audience.
Devang Vibhakar: You are an inspiration to many upcoming Gujarati folk singers. Who is an inspiration to you in this field?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: My inspiration has been Brahmlin Pujya Narayan Swami who was one of the best folk singers from the genre of Ragi. There are two main genres in Bhajan – Ragi and Vairagi. In Vairagi, I’m inspired by Kandasbapu.
Narayan Swami made some changes to the style of Ragi folk music. He added classical music to Ragi Bhajans. He is my idol.
Devang Vibhakar: Success at first really hard to acquire. Very few can have that. And once achieved, it is also hard to maintain it, digest it. You’ve received tremendous success. How are you able to accept and digest it?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: I never forget my past. I totally believe that the person who keeps his feet to the ground never falls down. Of course, we have seen such examples where people couldn’t digest the success and became overtaken by it. Time plays an essential part here. You never know that fans and people who love you today can throw you away tomorrow. Nothing is permanent. It’s better to remain at ground. I look at my success with simplicity. I believe that this is given to me by people with blessings of God. It’s not mine alone.
Devang Vibhakar: It is seen that once a person becomes celebrity, it becomes hard for him to enjoy normal social life. How is it in your case?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: It happens to me everyday. And I take it lightly. I take it in a way that these are the people who made a simple Kirti into Kirtidan. It’s their love that they approach me. It’s no good to run away from it. Whatever success I have received is built upon the foundation of love that people have showered upon me. Hence, I never run from it. When I’m out for programs, 100-150 in a day, approach me for a photograph or have some conversation. I mostly give my best to satisfy their requests.
Devang Vibhakar: How do you feel when you see on social media that young and teenagers imitating you and having fun?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: It’s really their love for me. Recently I saw a video where in a kid is extracting milk from cow with the background of one of my songs on Maldhari Samaj. I consider it as their token of love for me.
Devang Vibhakar: You have sung many folk songs and Bhajans. Which one is your favorite?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: In Bhajan, my favorite is “He Jag Jan ni, he jag damba” a Stuti(hymn of praise) sung by Narayan Swami. It is from Ragi tradition. In Vairagi tradition, my favorite is “Gagan Gadh Ramva Ne Halo” which is sung by Kandasbapu. This Bhajan is the extremity in its tradition, I believe.
Devang Vibhakar: Song “Ladkee” that you sung in MTV Coke Studio brought popularity to you as well as to Gujarati folk music. How did it all happen?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: In MTV Coke Studio, they do give different kinds of slots of chosen music directors. Musician pair Sachin-Jigar were told to make a song with inclusion of a Gujarati folk song. They were looking for a singer from Gujarat for six months. Then they decided to have me for this. We had a meeting in a hotel in Ahmedabad. We can not cover different types of folk music under one roof that we’ve in Gujarat. In Gujarat we have Saurashtra, Zalavad, Halar, Ghed, Kutch, North Gujarat which have their own kind of folk music. In meeting, I sung for them all these different kinds of folk songs of Gujarat.
After few days they called up me saying that I will have to change the style of singing(slope) for the particular song that they had selected for Coke Studio for me. Well, I had to tell them that I have no right to change the style of singing as it is against tradition. Of course, we can think of changing the rhythm. And I said that if you really want me to change the style then it won’t be possible for me to go ahead with the project. But they were so kind to tell me that they wanted me only for the song. Hence, a new song was written in the style of Gujarati folk music.
Viewers may be surprised to know that my voice for song “Ladkee” was recorded in Rajkot. Video recording was done in Mumbai in Coke Studio.
There is a very touching experience related to this song that I had while I was in Australia as part of pre-Navratri celebration. I had programs in different cities of Australia like Melbourne, Perth, Sydney etc. At the end of the tour we were in Perth. One Indian family from Perth called up my promoter there in Australia and requested him that he should bring me to their home. My promoted asked that what is the strong reason that I should request Kirtidan to pay a visit at your home because many people do invite him and despite his desire to meet all due to time constrains and seeing it practically it’s not possible to accept all invitations.
But allas didn’t we know that they had a very strong reason. An unfortunate event had happened with them. Their eight month old daughter had passed away recently who used to sleep only after listening “Ladkee” song. She was so attached with the song. They believed that if I go to their home and sing this song in front of her photograph she would get Moksh and her soul will rest in peace. This made us emotional and we went to their home at night at around quarter to nine. It was obvious that all family members had by heart “Ladkee” song.
I sat near to her photo and did light a cotton lamp and began singing “Ladkee” song. My eyes were closed through the song. Entire family was singing along with me with their eyes full of tears. This has been an out of the world experience for me. I don’t whether any other artist did receive such love, but it’s rare to get such love.
Devang Vibhakar: Often the word Moj(joy) is associated with artists. It is said that the true art of artist comes out when he’s in real joy. How is it with you?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: I have some thoughts on this. I believe that the artist is the one who is always in joy. I have heard sometimes some artists saying that they’re not having joy today. I believe that when the almighty has installed such outstanding art in the artist and if he/she is not in joy then it becomes hard to digest or own art for a long time. According to me, a true artist is the one who is always full of joy. In my case, my joy begins right with when I wake up. Art and Joy should be synonym to each other.
Devang Vibhakar: You have been blessed with both the Goddesses – Saraswati and Laxmi – which is a rare combination. What’s your say on this?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: I am thankful to my mother, my kuldevi Mogal Ma, Ma Sonbai Ma and Mahadev. Their blessings have always been with me. I also believe that my success directly proportional to the sacrifice my family has given for my career.
I used to do 200-250 programs a year. Recently I have decreased this number. It used to happen that on most joyful festivals I was away in a program entertaining others while my family remained at home alone. So these blessings from Goddesses Saraswati and Laxmi is the result of sacrifice that my family has made for me, I believe.
Devang Vibhakar: What advise would you like to give to aspiring folk singers who wish to become like you?
Kirtidan Gadhvi: Keep putting your efforts until you get success. Put your efforts properly. Get knowledge about the true folk music. And once you go fully prepared, success comes for sure.
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