Singing ACROSS BOUNDARIES
She is a trained classical musician. He is self-taught. Their love story made national headlines only because they practise different religions. She is the yin to his yang. MALLIK THATIPALLI catches up with KRUTIKA and TAMIR of the band Interfaith to understand their love story and music…
krutika Lele and her husband Tamir Khan are the quintessential modern-day couple. Talk to them for twenty minutes and you feel that you know them forever. Like most people in the country who opt for a love marriage, they
had an uphill task convincing their parents but, in their case, it was because they hailed from two different religions and not two different communities.
India of today is stuck in the same rigmarole of religion and that the youngsters are hailed as a poster couple for interfaith marriages shows how far the country has been polarised. They have been hounded on social media and criticised at every stage but once you speak to the couple, you realise that they are just like two different halves of a circle, each completing the other.
Jab they met
As they started conversing, they realised that they shared common interests and started dating soon after. Tamir adds, “Our conversation was very easy going and we built on our love for music. It just seemed right.” His partner adds that within two days of their speaking she knew that he was the right person for her. The couple were based in Pune and used to meet frequently for breakfast, as it was the only time they could take out for themselves owing to their careers. Krutika shares, “I’m not even a breakfast person but there we were day after day, me having coffee and him with his eggs. We have been on the same page since we met.”
Our conversation was very easy going and we built on our love for music. It just seemed right.
The couple met in 2015 when a common friend introduced them owing to both their interest in music. Krutika recalls, “I just started my account on Instagram and wasn’t very proficient on it. I used to message Tamir and used to call him ‘sir’. Tamir being Tamir put me at ease and insisted on me calling him by his name. I’m very camera shy and used to put up my videos with no visuals. He encouraged me to put a face to my music.”
After almost four years of dating, the couple got hitched in 2018. The biggest challenge was to convince Krutika’s parents who were initially opposed to the marriage. While Tamir’s parents took to Krutika the instant they met her, it took a while for her parents to get onboard.
Tamir reminiscences, “It took a lot of time. My family met Krutika and were fine and happy. Her parents didn’t meet me and there were a lot of differences, religion being a major one. It took us over a year of calling them each day and convincing them.”
Krutika adds that back then she didn’t think of anything else except the fact that the parents didn’t agree, and the guy had to convince them. Now in hindsight, she adds, “I just feel very bad that he needed to justify that he was a good person just because he was from a different religion. It was very unfair, but we did what we had to do to get married.
I just feel very bad that he needed to justify that he was a good person just because he was from a different religion. It was very unfair, but we did what we had to do to get married.
The fight for love
As the idea of love jihad raises its ugly head and even love is politicised, where couples are arrested for marrying out of faith, was it a difficult thing to do? Tamir says that they didn’t take it so seriously and explains, “You cannot get into the political reasons behind concepts like love jihad. I don’t take it too seriously. If the family is standing with you, then it doesn’t matter. In the hinterland, I agree it might take on a different connotation. However, if the girl’s family is not convinced and ten other peoplejoin them, it becomes very difficult. However, we were clear that we wanted to convince our families and only then go ahead.”
Krutika admits that it was a difficult time. “You read the news and see how these things are blown out of proportion. I feel blessed that my family has come around. I feel disgusted though that in 2021, we are facing the same issue as fifty years back. Love is love and marriage is marriage for everyone,” she states.
A big support was that Tamir’s parents were onboard and had no qualms for the marriage. He recalls his mother asking them to be thankful as they had only one set of parents to convince! “The only thing she asked me was not to embarrass them in any way. She advised us to focus on the similarity of our middle-class backgrounds and interests while having an open conversation with Krutika’s parents.
Like any other two people the duo have their own differences. She is a vegetarian and he loves non-vegetarian food. They celebrate all festivals together (including Christmas) and though not very religious, they keep their faith personal as it should be.
Along with being a married couple, they are musicians who sing together. While Krutika has been a passionate and trained Hindustani musician, music was a late entrant in Tamir’s life (in college) but became a mainstay very soon. Krutika who works with MTV says that it was during the lockdown last year that they realised that music was going to be their focus which led to Tamir quitting his job so that he can pursue music full time.
The name of their band Interfaith, pays homage to their beliefs and was proposed by Tamir in the middle of a traffic jam in Mumbai. Krutika laughs, “When he told me that he found a killer name and shared it,
I was like, people have only just stopped harassing us on social media, do we need this?”
When he told me that he found a killer name and shared it, I was like, people have only just stopped harassing us on social media, do we need this?
Tamir says that the name was always in his mind: as it was a reflection of their journeys. “I felt that the name had become a taboo and wanted to break free of it.” he states and adds, “She is from the kirana gharana and I learnt music on my own. Our music meets midways just like our marriage, so it felt apt.
The couple whose tastes are different but sing as one, focus on a wide repertoire. From originals to covers they sing across genres, and their current focus is to work more on their original songs and release them soon.