If there is something he [Ustad Sultan Khan] has taught me, and that I will take with me to my grave, it’s to smile always, regardless of what the situation is. And that is something that works, whether it is a professional issue or a personal one. It gives you the strength to sail through.
I’m in Delhi for a show and can’t be with Khan saab’s family, but my heartfelt condolence to them. I wish they follow his teachings, then they will never miss him around.
The first time I met him was at one of my earliest recordings with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain saab. Khan saab was on the sarangi. That day when I heard him, I realised that there are so many sarangi players in the world, but no one can match him, really. He played with just one thought; he just wanted to touch every listener’s heart. And that’s what he did, every time that he played.
That was almost 15 years ago. In the past 15 years, he has played the sarangi for many of our songs, including the first one that Loy, Ehsaan and I recorded as a trio. The memories of him sitting in our studio and chatting with us are fresh in my mind and heart. After that, we associated for so many stage shows and recordings. Every time I met him, he had lots to pass on to me, as if I were his shagird. He would often joke and chat with me, Ehsaan and Loy.
Despite being much older than all of us, he never let age dictate the tone of our relationship. He was spontaneous and loved cracking one-liners, keeping us all in splits at the studio.
Sultan Khan saab personified the sound of a sarangi for me. The instrument for me will be synonymous with him forever. I must say I was among those fortunate few who’ve had a chance to be associated with him for such a long time. His death is a huge loss to the world of classical music and to me.
(As told to Rachana Dubey)