Mulkraj Gadhvi, ladies and gentlemen, is no regular Gen Y. This social media influencer is a wearer of many hats. The CEO of CKG International FZC, a Dubai based company is an artist at his core. With his soul rooted in classical music, he is on a mission to give Indian classical music an international identity, using his influence and his passion for travelling.
From a Tanpura, to a Piano, to a German Zither; he hones the power to create magic out of instruments from around the world. But what is that one instrument he has fallen madly and deeply in love with? Well, as rare as it may be, it is the accordion for him.
Mulkraj says, “For me, music is not entertainment. It’s, so much more, it is a spiritual journey.”
Touching over 20 Thousand lives via social media with his passion for music and travel, the man who goes by his penname “Kaffir” had started his musical journey at a young age. With his maternal family from Gujrat engrossed in the art of music and poetry, Mulkraj was exposed to folk music and had started singing by the age of four.
His family, then, encouraged him to learn classical music under some of India’s renowned artists, including, Sri Rajesh Kelkar, Pandit Jagdish Prasad Ji, Ustad Raza Ali Khan and Ashwani Bhide Deshpandey. In his years of learning, Mulkraj pursued his education in sound engineering while still carrying on his training in classical music. It wasn’t long before opportunity came knocking at his door and he worked alongside the music composer Pritam Chakraborty as an assistant director. A decade down the line, he is still a sincere student and continues to train under Ustad M. Bahauddin Dagar.
Soon after his education, Mulkraj was asked to help his family with their business, set up in Dubai. To his luck, music followed him across the sea. “Luckily, I met a set of twin sisters from Georgia with a band of their own. Along with the Healer Twins, I performed at over 50 music festivals and events in the UAE. I’ve had the privilege of performing at Gulf Musical Festival, Fridge and even performed for government entities, at Sikka.”
Finding the perfect balance between passion and profession, this Ustaad in the making is currently working on an album of his own. He released his first original, in the midst of the pandemic and is looking forward to releasing four more tracks by the end of 2021.
His work is largely influenced by Sufi music and Urdu poetry, he describes his work as “typical Urdu poetry but in a very modern khayal (thought process)”. He continues to add that “I reach out to influential Urdu poets who’ve further given me the inspiration and strength to continue down this road. Despite being a young artist, I took it upon myself to make my music and poetry heard to the masses. This is something I’ve recently been working on, it’s a modern-day tale with an old twist ‘love at first sight’
“Tuhjs eeithihaad-e-itifaaqan ho Gaye,
Teri ibtisamke hum kaayil ho gaye,”
Surely, there must have been something unique about the accordion if a fine artist like Mulkraj Gadhvi, who has been playing the Harmonium since his childhood, grew fond of the instrument.
“When I was travelling to Tiblisi on a business trip, I found a Bayan(a button accordion) at a flea market. I couldn’t even play it, but it sounded so beautiful, I just had to have it. Then a thought sprouted in my head. If I could play a harmonium and was easily able to learn the bayan, why can I not learn to play the accordion?” he expressed.
This thought of his lead him to invest in a second-hand accordion and learn from a pro. “I found one teacher during the pandemic who is originally from Serbia, based in the US, Bratislav Manasijevic. He is one of the finest accordion teachers in the world. We started my training, together. He focused on working on my left hand, since it takes control of the rhythm, chords and harmonies, which we do not have in Indian Music” he narrates.
“My dream is to learn the accordion and be able to create Indian ghazals and classical music from it with a hint of jazz and the influence of Urdu poetry, and that’s where my obsession for the instrument sparks from” says Mulkraj.
Harmonium has been synonymous to Indian Classical Music, however, the accordion, according to our young artist has a really fine tuning to it. These instruments do not get the attention they deserve primarily because they tend be on the expensive end of the affordability spectrum. An average accordion costs up to 3 Lakh Rupees, whereas a high-end accordion may cost around 15-16 Lakh Rupees. The accordion has a complete range; it has piano’s base, which is an amalgamation of rhythm and harmony, on the left side and the melody oozing out from the right.
The rarity and the spectrum of rhythm and melody of the instrument only made the instrument all the more appealing to Mulkraj. Whether or not will his fans and music lovers get a glance of his passion for the accordion in his upcoming tracks, remains a mystery. You can follow him on Instagram @mulkrajkaffir.
Follow editor Sandy @blabwithsandy