Singer Rekha Bhardwaj is back with judging ghazal singers in Khazana Artist Aloud Talent Hunt
Rekha Bhardwaj is back with the third edition of Khazana Artist Aloud Talent Hunt. The reality show that hunts ghazal singers, exclusively, kicked off last week and joining Bhardwaj on the judges’ panel would be singers like Pankaj Udhas, Anup Jalota and Sudeep Banerji. Overwhelmed by the response of the contestants in the last two editions, the 56-year-old Mumbai-based singer, who has been part of the reality show since its inception in 2018, believes there is no dearth of gazal singing talents in India. Known for her distinct style in Bollywood and credited for songs like Namak Ishq Ka, Genda Phool, Kabira and others, Bhardwaj talks about judging the show and her plans for singing more gazals in the future. Excerpts:
How has the experience of judging Khazana been so far?
Every year the entries are multiplying. The response has been overwhelming in the last two years, and though I don’t like judging anyone, if someone is seriously trying to do something in ghazal then it is our responsibility to guide them. Last year, we got a nayab (exceptional) entry of a sibling pair who would sing ghazal, bhajan and even sufiyana songs. Khazana gives them a holistic platform teaching them about stage etiquettes along with other nuances. I wish we could give more talents a chance.
With the pandemic underway, will there be a physical event?
We usually listen to the primary entries online and later a finale is organised where the finalists perform in a concert like set up. Since a physical event seems unlikely we might listen to each of the contestants individually. Last year, we had judged a finalist over a video app, so we might as well do it this time.
Where do you think the genre stands now when commercial numbers are most successful in Bollywood and even independent artistes pursue their own style?
It would be wrong to say that Bollywood produces only commercial songs. If you consider my songs like Ishqiya and then Dedh Ishqiiya, they had ghazals and even thumri. Ghazal scene is very much alive in India and they are at a good space. In fact, the entries at Khazana are a testimony of that. Having said that I believe that there should be more platforms like Khazana and the reach should be more. Also, we need to work individually and collectively to push the genre to a higher pedestal.
Who are your favourite ghazal singers?
I have grown up listening to Madhurani Faizabadi, Mehdi Hasan, Farida Khanam and many more. Among the contemporaries, I like Jagjit Singh and also some of Arijit Singh’s songs which have a sufiyana touch.
Tell us about your future projects.
I have been planning to concentrate on singing more ghazals. So I will be singing the ghazals of my favourite singers once or twice a month. In Bollywood, I have sung for Gunjan Saxena and a couple of more new directors.