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An Extraordinary Talent Bridging two cultures musically, Mubarak Al-Rashed Al-Azmi

Reshmy Krishnakumar Tuesday, February 24, 2015
An Extraordinary Talent Bridging two cultures musically, Mubarak Al-Rashed Al-Azmi

The bilateral relationship between India and Kuwait dates back to history where the trade relations evolved as strong bonding of friendship, love and respect. The commercial links between the two countries gradually paved way for a mutual admiration and influence of the vivid culture and tradition on both sides. Even after so many years of wide transition in the economic scenario of both countries, we could see that, the relationship still bears the warmth. Be it in the field of social, political, economic, art, culture or literature, the mutual influence is visible. A rare kind of such an influence, which proves the universality of music, exist among us bridging two cultures; the Kuwaiti singer Mubarak Al-Rashed who just love to sing Indian songs.

IIK: We are so happy to share few moments with you Mubarak and Thank you so much for your time.

MUB: India and the people of India are very close to my heart. So it is always my pleasure to share time with you.

IIK: Tell us, what made you get hooked up to Hindi music?

MUB: The love for Hindi songs began at the age of, may be, 9 or 10. My cousin and I grew up watching Hindi movies of Amitabh Bachan and thought that the hero himself is singing the beautiful songs in those films. When I went in search of songs sung by Amitabh, it was with surprise that I realized, it was not Amitabh who sang, but Kishore Kumar. There I began to follow Kishore Kumar and got introduced to other legendary actors of yester years who sang with the voice of Kishore Kumar on the silver screen. Later on I started listening to other singers too. It was my cousin who recognized my talent and suggested songs for me. It was with his encouragement, I started learning them.

IIK: So who is your favorite, Amitabh or Kishore Kumar?

MUB: That is a difficult question, to choose one. It’s through Amitabh and Kishore Kumar that I got introduced to all others in Bollywood. My ever time favourite ‘is’ and ‘will be’ these two legends. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch or like others. I am a great fan of Mohammed Rafi too. Now I take songs of others like Arjit Singh, Sonu Nigam, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan etc.

IIK: Not being your mother tongue, Hindi would have been a challenge for you, especially at a younger age of 9 or 10, when you started singing. Tell us about your experience with the language.

MUB: Of course Hindi was difficult for me to learn. But I would say, God Almighty helped me in passing that stage by giving the talent of catching lyrics of a song by repeatedly hearing it. Thus I learn the song, the expression and reproduce it. Some of my friends and well-wishers, especially Mohammed Basheer from Mumbai, helped with the correct diction and pronunciation.

IIK: Traditional Indian music, be it the film songs or other songs, is based on certain set rules and guide lines, in particular some ‘Ragaas’ etc. which is done by trained musicians. Without learning music in an Indian conventional way, you are able to sing those raaga based films songs. Have you ever felt that you should learn Indian music?

MUB: May be it’s my love and respect for India and Indian people which is working magically on me to sing with a similar voice and style of the legend Kishore Kumar. It’s true that I didn’t learn music, but the talent is in my blood. I have lots of friends from all parts of India and they all are so happy to hear me singing their language as good as any other singer from India. Their encouragement and love is the fuel for my musical journey. Definitely, God willing, I would like to go to India and learn the traditional basics of music from a Guru which will give versatility for my voice and will help to improve the modulations.

IIK: Last year you sang a Konkani song at an event. Can we expect songs of other Indian languages too from you in near future?

MUB: Singing a song in Konkani language has increased the confidence and trust on my talent and blessings and God willing, you will soon hear me singing Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil songs too.

IIK: Which is your personal favourite, old melody or the new songs? What is your opinion on the recent trend of Remix for the original version of old Hindi songs?

MUB: Old melodies are heart touching and it’s so true that we say ‘Old is Gold’. My personal favorite is always the old melodies, especially the song from the movie ‘DON’. People started recognizing me and the similarity of my voice with Kishore Kumar when I first sang this song in front of a huge crowd in 2008. But now I started learning new songs for the new generation. When they prefer the remix version, I go with that. It is important for a singer to be in line with the taste of the audience. By God’s grace I can learn any song by repetitively hearing it for two or three days and now I am in a position to sing both old and new alike according to the audience wish.

IIK: The talent of a Kuwaiti to sing Hindi songs with the originally intended feel and emotions without knowing the actual meaning of lyrics is something really commendable. What you have to say about it?

MUB: Most of the old melodies are sung knowing the meaning because I use to watch almost all those movies many times. Even if I don’t know the word by word meaning of lyrics, the situation in the film where a song appears helps me in understanding the emotion of that song. But now when I take new songs, sometimes I sing without knowing the meaning. It is God’s grace and blessing that I am able to understand the feel from the way the original song was sung in the movies. This is possible by continuously hearing the song I intend to sing, to capture the words and emotions alike.

IIK: What is the response of your audience, especially the Kuwaiti audience?

MUB:Whoever it is, the first reaction is always a surprised look followed by the appreciation for singing in a language which is not mine. Now a days both Indian and Kuwaiti audience have started asking for Arabic songs too which is a new venture for me.

IIK: Are you very cautious about your voice? Any extra care that you do to preserve it, especially when it resembles a legendary singer like Kishore Kumar?

MUB: My Indian friends used to tell me not to have cold drinks. But for me, my voice is God’s gift and I strongly believe that it will remain intact. I don’t follow any food or drink restrictions.

IIK: Tell us the experience when you met your all time hero Amitabh Bachan in Kuwait.

MUB: Singing playback for a Hindi movie and meeting Amithabh Bachan were two of my dreams ever since I started singing. One came true last year. I met Amitabh Bachan here in Kuwait just two days before my birthday and I consider it as the most precious birthday gift I ever got. He was surprised and happy to know that a Kuwaiti is admiring and singing his songs. But, unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sing to him at that meeting.

IIK: What are your current plans in music?

MUB: At present we are at the planning stage of an exclusive event with lots of talents from India and Kuwait, which includes Hindi as well as Arabic songs. I am on a journey to fulfill the dream of placing myself in a commendable position in the music world.

IIK: It is the time of celebration and on this occasion we Indians also join the joy of national day and liberation day of our second home, Kuwait. It is the time we really thank Kuwait for the warm relationship between the two countries. On this occasion what is your message to our readers.

MUB: Kuwait and India has always kept a good relation and feel so happy that I am also a part
of it musically. Seeing me on platforms of Indian events, as a Kuwaiti handling Indian music, it will definitely develop a bonding in the mind of art lovers.

IIK: We are proud of such a singer whose voice resembles our legend, who takes pain to learn
Indian songs for us, who keeps the love and respect for Indian culture. We wish you all the best for your new ventures. Thank You.
Reshmy Krishnakumar is a freelance Statistician based in India. She was working with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) as Research Associate. Having done her post-graduation in Statistics, she worked as lecturer at St.Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, until her relocation to Kuwait to join at Statistics Department, Kuwait University, Khaldiya. As a freelance writer, she is contributing to various magazines, blogs, and websites. Her passion includes classical dance, writing poems in Malayalam and Hindi. While in Kuwait she was an active member of the Writers’ Forum Kuwait, Indian Women In Kuwait (IWIK) and Science International Forum (SIF) Kuwait.
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