He is already more popular than two-music-albums-old singers usually are, but Sufi singer Kanwar Grewal is trying hard not to seem like he is all-encompassed by fame. At the launch of his music album titled Jogi Naath in the city on Friday, the singer tried to demystify his persona for the public.
The eight tracks of the album have been penned by different people, some of them his friends. But, before he can share more information about the songs, Kanwar is affronted by members of the press for a "derogratory" term used in one of his songs, Kothe Di Kanjri. Why would he call a woman ‘kanjri’? They throw the question at him. "I am calling the woman in the song ‘saiyyan’ (god) di kanjri. In a way, I am elevating her (status) by highlighting her closeness to god. For that matter, wandering Sufi saints were viewed as ‘kanjars’ by the villagers in whose villages they would pass through, being nomads," says Kanwar in his defence.
Claiming himself to be a man who is “free from worldly possessions”, Kanwar believes everything is decided by fate. Perhaps as was his entry into commercial music. A native of village Mehma Swai in district Bathinda, the singer is a post graduate in music from Punjabi University, Patiala, where he also got to work on the background scores of productions churned out by the department of theatre and television. In 2010, a visit to Malerkotla’s village Falaund Kalan changed his life as he knew it, says he. “There lives a 50-year-old woman in a kutiya (hut) who I know as ‘bebe’, and when I met her, she asked me to stay and sing for her. After that, I felt like I never want to leave. It is here that I spend most of my time now,” he tells us. Meanwhile, Kanwar insists that he is only a ‘sevadaar’ at the dera that is called ‘Meera Da Darbar’, along with other people who come to listen to the woman’s discourses on life and religion. According to him, the sound of singing there is incomparable to that heard while performing in what he labels the ‘outside world’.
The singer says he never wanted to sing on a commercial scale, as for him, music and singing are equal to worshipping god. “When music companies appealed to the dera management, they asked me to sing for the people, saying that Sufi singing would help more people connect with the almighty. This is how I started singing and cutting albums,” he adds.
Next, would he consider marriage? “I do not consider myself to be a ‘baba’, as I have been labelled by the media. While I may sing at temples and mosques, I am just a believer of karma and doing the right things in this world,” offers Kanwar, who believes life can change in the blink of an eye.