Interview with Kavita Paudwal Tulpule: Indian Singer
Kavita Paudwal Tulpule is an Indian singer and known for singing devotional songs including Gayatri Mantra, Bhajan of Lakshmi, Krishna and Amrutvani. Kavita has released around 40 music albums.
She holds a commerce degree from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai. She completed her master’s degree in interactive media from the Tisch School of Arts, New York University.
At the age of 13, she debuted as a playback singer in Mahesh Bhatt’s film Junoon. By the time Kavita was 16, she had composed music for two films.
Kavita has given her voice to various film composers like A. R. Rahman, Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, Anu Malik, and Bappi Lahiri and she is the daughter of Anuradha and Arun Paudwal.
How did you first get started in the music industry?
Kavita Paudwal: I grew up singing since I was very young. As a young singer, I performed in the film Toofan for Bappi Lahari.
After that, I recorded my first playback for an adult, or for Pooja Bhatt in Junoon, which was followed by several pop records.
My debut album, Haiya, did incredibly well and was followed by a variety of various private albums, including remixes of Punjabi ghazals.
Can you describe your vocal style and how you have developed it over time?
Kavita Paudwal: My singing style may best be characterized as classical Indian filmy vocalist. I have always emulated what I have heard others say, even when they claim it’s not the case.
You know, you listen to something and recreate it or reproduce it in your own way. Most of the music I listened to while growing up was classic Indian film music, as is my singing style.
So as far as developing it over a period of time is concerned, you try and adapt to the changing tastes of the audiences.
But I really believe that you can’t go too far from your basic style of singing. That is something that you adapt very early on in your career or in your musical life.
What inspires you when it comes to your music, and how do you go about finding that inspiration?
Kavita Paudwal: I’m inspired by hearing other perspectives and listening to a variety of music genres.
How do you approach learning and recording new songs, and what is your process for making them your own?
Kavita Paudwal: As far as making any song your own and adapting it is concerned, we all do it in our own ways when we first meet, sing it in the shower, or hear it while we are out for a walk, but when you professionally redo an already existing piece of work, I believe you have to be very careful to respect the original composers’ thoughts and not just rehash them.
It makes it sound like any other current song. In fact, it loses its relevance when you take away its original thought.
Whenever I have tried to recreate a song, I have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the original sound and thought that went into making it. I do not like to make it drastically different just so that it fits into a modern mould.
Can you talk about some of your favorite collaborations?
Kavita Paudwal: You know I haven’t collaborated with too many artists. I guess when we started singing, they were called do-it sets, and the collaborations usually happened because the music composer wanted it that way.
He wanted to club voices together, which is what collaborations are. Basically, you know that the meeting of two minds is the meeting of two schools of music. I haven’t really systematically pursued it.
How do you handle criticism or negative feedback, and what steps do you take to improve your performances?
Kavita Paudwal: I think we all realize the need to incorporate some amount of criticism into the work that we do, and I think everybody tries to fix the obvious things that do not go in favor of the song or the performance.
The idea is not to be put off by it or give back, but to just try and finish it to the best of your abilities. Recently, I heard an interview.
They were praising Shah Rukh Khan for the success of Pathan, and what he said really touched me. He said that the idea is not to get back at trolls or heaters. The idea is to just complete what you have started. That is a sign of a mature artist.
What do you consider to be your greatest strengths as a singer, and how have you worked to develop those skills over the years?
Kavita Paudwal: I really believe my greatest strength as a singer is my consistency and persistence, irrespective of how my career graph goes.
You have to keep at it. That’s probably the biggest advice I would give musicians of today: don’t be put off by the fact that your first, second, third, fourth, or fifth song goes viral; you are not on a reality show; you’re not being packaged well; all of that has a shelf life.
What is really permanent is your ability to keep pursuing it. I feel that it is important to adapt to changing times, but it is also important, to be honest about what you are good at and try to get better at that.
Can you discuss any challenges you’ve faced as a playback singer, and how you overcame them?
Kavita Paudwal: I think my greatest challenge as a singer has been the constant comparison to all my mother’s musical accomplishments.
We have a lot of musicians in my family: my parents, both of them, my brother, and me. We are all musicians, and I keep saying that, you know, when it comes to families of doctors, people ask you with a lot of pride, How many doctors were there in the last generation? Or, as far as showbiz is concerned, it is just blatantly labeled as nepotism, which is not true.
Yes, when you have seen the art. As you grow up, you definitely have an advantage because you’ve had more exposure than others.
Yes, there are times when you get an easy entry into the industry. But after your first, second, and third releases, your struggle is comparable to the struggle of any newcomer; it really depends upon what you call a struggle.
I wouldn’t call choosing between two brands struggling. I would call getting good work a struggle, but then again, if you really love what you do and believe in what you do, then you learn to pursue your art despite all the noise, and that’s exactly what I have been doing.
I think that is my greatest strength, and I am proud to say that I have developed this attitude from my parents.
What advice do you have for aspiring playback singers, and how can they develop their skills and break into the industry?
Kavita Paudwal: I dare say today’s aspiring musician. A singer is a lyricist. They have it far better because they have an open platform called social media where they can present their work.
It’s very sad that even today we associate musical success with a successful song in a movie or with Bollywood.
There are so many independent artists who have made their own space and then been invited by Bollywood or to do any other collaboration, so I would insist on fine-tuning your art.
Keep at it, keep working at it, and I also personally feel that it’s important to be financially independent.
If you are a musician, because music is a very long-drawn profession, I think any art is a long-term profession.
Whether you decide to pursue it professionally, whether you are an artist, photographer, or musician, it will take some time before your passion can make you money.
As a result, you need to have a side hustle to keep you from losing patience along the way. You know when we were younger, parents would insist that we had to get a computer education before we got into a career like music, and the sweet thing is precisely that: once you know that you don’t depend upon music to make your money or to be you and her to figure out your next mail, then you can do it with much more love and you can be much more relaxed.
So keep at it if you love to do it, and be ready to spend some time because that’s what you do with people you love and things you love to do.
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