In an interview with Fazil Qayoom, Sheikh Fayaz – one of the pioneers of Valley’s Chakkri singers, talks about this traditional melodic folk song of Kashmir and also makes some proposals for regaining the lost glory of the Chakkri.
FQ: What makes the Chakkri distinct from the other forms of Kashmiri music?
SF: The Chakkri depicts the melodic tradition of folk music that evolved in the Kashmir Valley many decades back. It truly upholds the cultural heritage of Kashmir. Earlier these songs used to be sung only
at nights during marriage ceremonies but now we perform it on several other popular occasions.
FQ: What made you interested in this form of music?
SF: Actually, it is our inherited profession and I, on my own, took a keen interest in it right from my childhood, as I realized I had a charming voice.
FQ: What are the main instruments associated with this form of music?
SF: The rhythmic accompaniments that are used while singing Chakkri include Rabab, Daff, Nott (a pot), Banjoo, Santoor, Tabla, Harmonium and Sarangi. Among all these, harmonium was added later. A dancer accompanies the group only at marriage functions as people insist on it.
FQ: Do you think today’s generation has lost interest in this folk song?
SF: Yes, I agree with it but the real lovers of this music still remain contented and recommend it at any cost.
FQ: What is it that makes today’s people less interested in Chakkri?
SF: Not a single cause can be attributed to it. With the growth of modernism in our society as well, Kashmir is losing its cultural heritage day by day. There is a massive change in prose and language. Even the Kashmiri language is dying. Everyone is drifting towards western culture. So, the change in the taste of music is no exception.
FQ: What are your views about the future of this folk song of Kashmir?
SF: Change is a must in anything and everything. Music is no exception. Compare the music of the Bollywood of 60s and 70s with that of today. You will examine a huge change in its concept and form. So you can judge this question accordingly.
FQ: What according to you can regain the lost glory of this Kashmiri music?
SF: The first and foremost flaw in this folk music is that there is no union representing it at all. There should be a union. Only then we can preserve this cultural heritage of Kashmiri music. The Kashmiri language should also be promoted in order to keep all types of Kashmiri music alive forever.
FQ: From whom are you inspired most?
SF: My grandmother! She encouraged me a lot in this field during my childhood.
FQ: Which is your most popular album?
SF: Sarhad-Maashoak, 1995 – which reflects the plight of Kashmiri mother wailing and waiting for her son who had crossed LOC and Khatij Naama which gained wide popularity across the Valley.