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World Music Day: Meet three new-age singers who are taking Kashmiri music to global stage


Srinagar: Singer Rasiq Imtiyaz Khan’s father could not live his Bollywood dream because of the family commitment. Twenty-four years on, his son has made him proud. His solo Kashmiri song ‘Lolan’ has been released by Zee Music Company, one of the top labels in the country.

The musical video, which seemingly is a truncated Kashmiri version of Sridevi-Kamal Hassan starrer ‘Sadma’, has notched nine lakh views across social media platforms. On the Zee Music Company’s YouTube channel alone, the song has clocked 2.85 lakh views since it was released on June 11.

Rasiq Khan

“My father sings too. He got a break in 1997 but he could not go to Mumbai. My maternal uncle too sings. In fact, he has helped me a lot to hone my skills. My mom, dad, and friends always encouraged me in my pursuit,” Rasiq told The Kashmir Monitor.

Rasiq’s success was hard-fought. He struggled for 12 years before he could get his first break. “It was a very hard struggle. I was 16 when I started my singing career. I worked hard. I learnt music from different gurus. I worked hard on my `sur’ and other facets of singing. I tried hard to get admission to the Institute of Music and Fine Arts but did not succeed,” said the 28-year-old singer.

Hailing from Gopalpora in Budgam district, Rasiq tried his luck in a musical reality show where he was among the top three finalists. “But the show was not telecasted. I do not know why. However, it did not deter me from pursuing my goal. This, in fact, motivated me to do more. Due to the pandemic, everything was affected. Musical industry too suffered,” he said.

 A big fan of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, he aims to debut in Bollywood one day. “I want to be a playback singer. I had got a chance to visit Mumbai a few years ago, but my family did not allow it. They were worried,” he said.

Rasiq is not alone in taking Kashmiri music to a new level.

Ishfaq Kawa from Shadipora village in Sumbal area has redefined Kashmir music in the last few years. An amateur singer, Ishfaq has not received any formal training from any musical ‘Gharana or teacher. He learnt singing by watching videos on YouTube. 

Ishfaq Kawa

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.

 “I have released 15 albums so far. The latest being`Taqdeer’ which notched 1.4 million views in one month. It is only on my YouTube channel. If we consider entire social media platforms then it would be huge. My biggest hit has been `Nund Bane’. It clocked 6.3 million views,” he said.

Ishfaq started uploading his songs on YouTube in 2016 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,” he said.

Come 2021, Ishfaq is all set to make Bollywood debut. “I have signed a contract with a Bollywood producer. I will be singing two songs for the movie. These were scheduled to be recorded earlier, but due to Covid, they got delayed. I am also in talks with another producer for lending my voice to some songs, “he said.

Ishfaq apart, Mahmeet Syed, a 34-year-old singer who holds three masters degrees, one of them in journalism, is collaborating with an international group for creating a fusion of Kashmiri and foreign music.

Mahmeet Syed

Daughter of a medico turned politician, Mahmeet has topped the charts since she made a music debut in 2004 with her first Kashmir musical ‘Chulhama Roshay Roshay’. The album was a runaway hit that sold 50,000 VCDs and 75,000 audio cassettes in the first year.

In fact, Mahmeet had almost quit music after the untimely death of her mother. After living in oblivion for years, Mahmeet resumed her musical career in a new avatar.

 “I am going on a world tour very soon. We will start from Dubai and hold shows in the US. I am also collaborating with an international team for musical fusion. Talks are on and hopefully, the deal will be signed soon,” she said.