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Rhythm of the soul

He has sung in movies like Krrish and Awarapan. Pakistani singer Rafaqat Ali Khan shares musical notes with Rachana Dubey.

art and culture Updated: Jul 23, 2007 14:05 IST
Rachana Dubey

He is another voice from our neighbourhood. After James and Glenn John of Bangladesh and Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan, here's Ustad Rafaqat Ali Khan who makes his Indian debut with the album Nishaan.

He's already hit the movie marquee with Krrish, Awarapan and more recently Dhokha. Pakistani singer Rafaqat Ali Khan exchanges musical notes with Rachana Dubey.

Aren't Ustads usually supposed to be in their 50s?
(Chuckles) No, no. I'm not in my 50s for sure.. but I'm old enough. I've been into classical singing for years. You know why I'm called Ustad? My father Ustad Nazakat Ali and uncle Ustad Salamat Ali Khan were classical and ghazal exponents.

I belong to the Shaam Chaurasi gharana which has been serving classical music for 400 years now. It's a kind of khayal gayaki. I'm taking the tradition forward... so I'm an Ustad.

How's Bombay treating you Ustadji?
This is a dream city not only for me, but for zillions of young Pakistani boys and girls who wish to pursue a career in films or singing.

<b1>What is the difference between the music and film industries of India and Pakistan?
Here, the market is huge, the companies are big, they market you better. Work opportunities are finer tuned than in Pakistan. But, Pakistan is slowly catching up.

Also, Indian films and Indian music have a large market outside Asia. Pakistani music is more into classical, kalams and nazams. Here, playback is a more popular form of singing.

Can music bridge the gap between the two nations?
Why not? Terrestrial boundaries have never been able to change the jazba of music in either nation. Some musicians attained adulthood here and spent the rest of their lives there.

Which Indian singers/composers are famous in Pakistan?
Kailash Kher, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan and Alka Yagnik actually most of them. Their concerts are packed.

Do you consider Atif and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan competition?
The market is huge here to accommodate all of us. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan filled up the vacuum after Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

How did you get into playback singing?
I was at a party when Rakesh Roshan heard me singing. He introduced me to Rajesh Roshan. They gave me my first big break in India. I've done little work in the last year or so but my core area of work is private albums.

Tell us about your album Nishaan?
I've sung in different styles for different listeners. There's a Sufi touch to it. I've written a song as well. This is my first private album with an Indian company.