After performing in Mumbai for 22 consecutive Navratris, Falguni Pathak is in Gujarat this year, leaving diehard fans in the city high and dry. She says, “I’ve been getting offers from Gujarat, US and lots of other places since the last three or four years. This year, I decided to take a chance. Also, Gujarat is completing 50 years this year and the state is celebrating it as Garvi Gujarat.”
This is Falguni’s first Navratri performance in Gujarat. She adds, “People here are seeing me in person for the first time. They have been watching me on TV for so many years. For the first two days, 80 per cent of the crowd was just watching me. The stage and sound were very new to them. After two days, everybody was dancing. Now, they know all the songs by heart and sing with me.”
As expected, Falguni’s shows are generating a huge response in Gujarat. “The response has been overwhelming. Last Saturday we had a crowd of 60,000. A lot of people come from Surat and Baroda,” she asserts.
The journey for this versatile singer started very young. “I began at the age of 10 years, singing in small groups. I was a chorus singer at Jolly Gymkhana, Ghatkopar. Those days, dandiya was only instrumental. I always had the habit of moving and singing. So someone from the audience saw me and told me to come ahead and sing. My singing career started from that point.” There has been no looking back.
A few years after getting into singing, she started her own band. “Initially I would sing with lesser-known bands. In 1994, I started my own band Ta Thaiyaa. The rhythm side is looked after by Jatin Talsania and the melody is done by Bhavesh Shah. It’s a team effort. We have a song called Dakla, which is played outside Mataji’s temples in Gujarat. We hire a man from Gujarat who comes with us wherever we go. This year we have added chorus singers, which takes our count to 26.”
Shows in Gujarat go on for hours, and sometimes even till 2 am. “In Gujarat, they start at 10 pm and play the music till 2 am. In Mumbai we have only two rounds, but in Gujarat it is for long hours. In Mumbai, I have sometimes sung till 6 am but with breaks in between,” she reveals.
Over the years, Falguni’s fame has reached far and wide and she’s been doing shows all over the world. “Last week, we performed in Australia. Every year after Navratri, we travel to the US for the weekend. Then we go to Gulf states such as Muscat, or even Belgium, where there is a huge Gujarati population,” she informs.
When asked which has been her most memorable performance so far, she says, “It’s difficult to tell. But when my album Yaad Peeya Ki was released, it was dandiya time. The very first day itself people were singing with me. It was very memorable.”
Did the so-called dandiya queen of Mumbai ever imagine she would become such a phenomenon? “No, never,” she says. “I just went on with my work. Even by going to Gujarat, I took a big risk. I still can’t believe all this is happening.”
Falguni Pathak's top hits
Pari hoon main
Ullu ka patha (Tere Bin Laden)
Folk songs where the language is different