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From humble farmer’s son to new singing sensation: Ishfaq Kawa comes long way to become ‘Arijit Singh of Kashmir’

Srinagar: Some call him Arijit Singh and some hail him as Bryan Adams of Kashmir, yet Ishfaq Kawa’s feet remain firmly on the ground.

From an amateur YouTuber to the distinguished singer, the 25-year-old has redefined Kashmir music in the last one year.

Hailing from Shadipora village in Sumbal, Ishfaq has become a new musical sensation of Kashmir. His songs get millions of views and his melody melts umpteen hearts.

Such is the response that every song he uploads becomes a runaway hit. Sample this: His Balyara Ho song has 3.7 million views on YouTube. Likewise, Afsoos Duniya has 1.8 million views and Kaash Nasebas mashup has two million views. Zaroori Chum, Cheerth Be Hawas Dil, and latest Nund Bani are runaway hits garnering lakhs of views. 

“I was interested in music since my childhood but there was no platform available. I used to participate in cultural shows in school. I used to sing Bollywood, Sufi, and Punjabi numbers. Initially, I started uploading songs on various apps, but it did not thrill people. But I did not lose hope and tried to give my best,” he said.

An amateur singer, Ishfaq has not received any formal training from any musical `gharana’ or teacher. He learnt singing by watching the videos on YouTube.

Like Kishore Kumar, Ishfaq created a niche despite not being trained. The icing on the cake is that he can play keyboard, harmonium, and guitar at ease.

“From 2016, I formally started uploading my songs on YouTube and the response was amazing.  I started writing lyrics for my songs. My first song was Chana Mera. In 2018 I released Madno, which was received well by the audience. And as they say, there was no looking back,” he said.

Holding hotel management and ITI diploma, Ishfaq comes from a humble family of farmers who did not have even the remotest connection with the music.

“I did my hotel management for two years. I then went to ITI. Simultaneously, I kept pursuing my passion. My family always supported me. Particularly when people talked about me, they felt proud and allowed me to live my dreams,” he said.

Unlike other singers who sing to earn, Ishfaq spends his own money to cut albums. “I spend from my pocket for my music. I have not earned a penny. I invest my money to popularise music. I wish there are sponsors so that my music could reach more people. My songs are available on almost all musical platforms and people have liked those as well,” he said.

A big fan of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and Arijit Singh, Ishfaq aims to debut in Bollywood one day.  “Last year, I had to sing for a Bollywood movie, but due to lockdown, it did not take off. Some web series producers have also approached me. My ultimate dream is to become a playback singer in Bollywood. I hope it comes true,” he said.