“There is a need to actively perform and discuss classical and traditional folk music within the community. That is the way to connect people to our rich culture of music,” says Govind Saraswati while performing a Chhota Khyal in Raag Kalyan in an informal community gathering at Sector 11 this Sunday, March 3, 2022.
Govind Saraswati, a resident of Dwarka in his fifties, lives a life of higher thinking and simple living and is working to promote musical culture in the community around him. He has been making efforts to train the young generation in classical music and giving budding vocalists a chance to perform in his voluntary community initiative ‘Swarangan’. Saraswati says, “We must give back what we received from the community. We must reach out to the common masses to preserve the treasure of classical music and I am going to do that.”
Saraswati not only performs Hindustani classical music but is also well-versed in the art of semi-classical forms of music such as chaiti, dadra and thumri among others. Govind believes that even talking about classical music would work wonders in connecting people with the core of Hindustani classical music. Govind who has received classical training belongs to Mithilanchal, Bihar, and took his training from various gurus in the music school started by his father at his native place.
Talking about the beginning of his relationship with music, Govind says, “My mother was like a daughter to the royal family of Nepal and so I had the privilege to live and study in Kathmandu. A district-level science festival intrigued me and I was disappointed to find that my school didn’t take part in it due to a lack of preparation. I asked my principal to let me go to participate as a singer because I was fond of singing bhajans and film songs. I performed and won in that event, which was my first ever performance.”
Govind remembers the incident that proved to be a turning point in his life and made him take classical music more seriously. “We had returned to our native place from Nepal in the late seventies when I took admission in a school in 9th standard. I sang the song ‘Ansoo bhari hai ye jeevan ki rahen' at an event. Sadly my performance was a complete disaster. Public hooted and it was a painful moment for me. That day I decided to take music seriously and learn it to its perfection."
He continues, "At that time, my father was running a music school where many scholars stayed and taught. I started spending time with them to learn music. I spent a long time learning riyaz and the essence of classical music under the guidance of maestro Ram Preet Sharma. In 1984, I got a chance to sing in a program at Dhansar Colliery in the presence of Sharda Sinha. That program gave me lots of appreciation and confidence to go for music as a career.”
Govind started singing and building his name in the field. He came to Delhi in search of a good future in 1986 and joined a school in Vikaspuri as a music teacher. That was the beginning of Govind as a composer beyond a performer. In his words, “Doing a job in a school doesn’t give you a lot of opportunities to sing pure classical or even semi-classical. My role was confined to make kids learn some songs and do some composition on some occasions.”
The real journey as a composer for Govind started with a breakthrough when he got a chance to compose a ballet for Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University. Hailing from a rural area in Bihar led to distrust in him from the college authorities to manage such a huge fest. However, the Director of the college Sudarshan Juyal gave him a chance and the show became a huge success. Thereafter, Govind climbed the ladder of success, with his talent and hard work, soon becoming the youngest person ever to be awarded an A Grade from All India Radio. He was also appreciated as a musician by Sahitya Kala Parishad.
Although Govind spent most of his life lending his compositions rather than being a singer himself, he sings for the community to spread awareness and appreciation for music. His compositions have touched every milestone in the music industry, from working for companies like HMV, Venus, Tips, and Bambino to directing music for Sh. Ravindra Jain, Suresh Wadekar, Amitabh Bachhan, Sharma Bandhu, Shubha Mudgal, and Sonu Nigam to name a few.
He even managed to work with the legends Rajan Sajan Mishra on his composition ‘Chants of Om’ which gained mass popularity. Govind has greatly contributed to television as well by composing memorable tunes for telefilms and for the reality show ‘Malik Ek Sur Anek’ which became a huge success on Star Plus.
Presently, Govind is working tirelessly towards the study of the healing effects of music as a form of therapy. He has demonstrated his findings and observations in various seminars and workshops in hospitals and universities. His demonstrations at AIIMS on music therapy were well-taken and appreciated by eminent doctors and medicals experts.
Punctual in his time and practice in music, Sarswati says “Slowly is the fastest way to accomplish any skill and the same applies to music. The more time you give to practise, the more perfect you become. So give time and be patient, and that is the key to success.”