She has enchanted millions over the years. Now, after a long hiatus, Hindustani classical vocalist Parween Sultana will lend her voice to a film —Vikram Bhatt’s 1920.
You are among the Hindustani classical singers most in demand. However, you don’t seem to do as many concerts these days as your contemporaries.
I am always there for my fans and all those who love music. I perform throughout the year both in and out of the country. However, the media doesn’t get to see me much because I generally perform early in the morning when journalists are not around.
Aren’t you depriving your fans?
I am selective about the concerts because of declining standards. My fans though, can always hear me at events such as the Dover Lane Music Conference in Kolkata every alternate year. At times the organisers can’t afford artists like us but that doesn’t mean I am depriving my fans
.<b1>You are singing in a film after a long time..
It was a classical song and one that I liked. I did the song not because the offer came from the Bhatt banner but because I liked the tune and the lyrics.
What is the song like?
The film, as the name suggests, is based on an incident of 1920 and I was satisfied with the output of the song. It’s called Wada and starts with raga Mishra Bhairavi and then moves on to Kirwani. Despite it being a Hindustani classical song, and apart from sarod and santoor, we have also used instruments such as piano and guitar.
It is composed by Adnan Sami, who is much younger than you..
I knew Adnan was my fan but what impressed me more was his knowledge of both Indian classical and western classical music. He was elated when I completed recording the song in only 20 minutes. It’s a good sign that the young generation is again taking interest in Indian classical music.
So you think the young generation was losing interest in this genre of music…
They were losing interest but it’s not their fault. Concerts that will attract them are not held often because of the lack of funds. It’s good to see that Indian classical music is gradually getting back on its feet with corporate houses now taking the initiative to sponsor concerts.
Don’t you think fusion music is to some extent responsible for this revival of interest?
It is responsible, but nothing can compare to classical music. Fusion is a fad just as ghazals were a few years ago. And, after all, fusion has its roots in classical music, which is the mother of music. The mother was unwell for a while and the children took over her responsibilities. However, now the mother has recovered and she will take care of everything.
Was it a conscious decision to keep away from films?
I have worked with people such as Madan Mohan, Naushad, SD Burman and RD Burman. I will always sing in films if there are songs that touch my heart.
Even Pandit Jasraj has sung in 1920. Many people don’t know about our work in films because it’s not often that a song is composed for us. Many don’t know that I also sang in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha.
You have trained under your father, Janab Ikramul Majid, then Chinmoy Lahiri and finally Ustad Dilshad Khan, whom you later married. Who has been your greatest influence?
For me all three of them have equal importance. I married my guru Ustad Dilshad Khan because we could relate to ourselves not only musically but also as human beings. However, I still consider him my guru.