Ahmedabad: “It is great to see the new generation take an interest and appreciate local artistes performing here in the city,” said Gujarat folk singer Ishani Dave, who performed on Thursday night at the Sabarmati Festival on Ahmedabad’s riverfront. The Sur Gulabi Mosam event was led by popular Gujarati singer Bhumik Shah, with another seven new-generation performers from the state taking the stage through the night. On the sidelines of the second edition of the cultural extravaganza—the brainchild of Anar Patel, the daughter of former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel—MeraNews spoke with Dave and Shah about their performing at the festival, their love for the city and the emotions that transcend their music.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Coming from a family of musicians, and being the daughter of legendary Gujarati folk singer Prafull Dave, was it obvious for you that you would join the music industry?

Ishani Dave: I have loved singing since childhood. I have been performing since the age of 10, but was never too keen about it at first. I was confused about what to do. It was at the time of selecting a college that I decided to study sound engineering in Australia so that I can be connected to the field of music. If not singing, I would have been creating music. I have always loved performing with my father, though, more than a singer, I am a listener when I share the stage with him, because I always get to learn something new as an artiste from him.

Tell me about your performance at the Sabarmati Festival.

Bhumik Shah: This is the second time that I am performing at the Sabarmati Festival. Last year, I performed with 21 singers. This year, I got to perform with nine of the best Gujarati singers. The audience in Ahmedabad has such an infectious energy that it always makes me come back and perform for them. The people here have a great taste for folk music and appreciate the artistes well who do true justice to that form of music.

Dave: It is great to see the new generation take an interest and appreciate the local artistes performing here in the city. Last year, I had contributed to the theme song of the festival and also judged a musical event. This year, I performed on stage with some of the best Gujarati folk artistes on the second day of the festival.

What do you find easier to perform: folk or Bollywood music?

Dave: I’ve been breathing folk music since my childhood; it runs in my blood. So I personally find myself very comfortable when performing folk, though I feel Bollywood is easier because the process one has to go through while practising and performing folk music is tough. But I have always preferred folk music over Bollywood.

Shah: Comparing Bollywood and folk music is like comparing apples to oranges—both are two different genres having an equal amount of fan following and patrons. It is always upon the performer to understand the audience and cater to their tastes accordingly, without drifting from his or her genre completely. Currently, the audience is loving the fusion of traditional folk with a tinge of modern age music.

Who inspires you to give such electrifying performances that we get to see on stage? 

Shah: I am truly inspired by Sukhwinder Singh—the way he performs, the unique energy he brings to the stage. He is one of the best examples of brining traditional folk to the people with amazing fusion of new-age music.  A.R. Rahman, too, is a great inspiration on how a performer should conduct oneself and respect his craft.

Dave: My father Prafull Dave is a great inspiration for me in my career. I’ve been travelling with him to his shows since childhood and have watched with wonder the ragas he performs on stage. I’ve also trained for six months at A.R. Rahman’s music institute in Chennai, which was an amazingly great learning experience for me.

What’s next for you? What can the ever-demanding audience expect from you next?

Shah: I have quite a few performances lined up till summer, and then I plan to work on an original idea that I have been toying with for some time… I am also working on ideas to bring out a fusion of some 1990s Bollywood songs and the new-age songs that are making waves currently.

Dave: I am going to stick to folk songs and performances based on them. It’s not that I don’t like Bollywood, but folk music is “by the people, for the people” and I wish to bring those forgotten gems of songs back to the mainstream and I am sure listeners are going to love it. I too am planning on working on an original score. It’s currently a work in progress.

The Sabarmati Festival, which began on Wednesday, will run through Sunday.