Shujaat Hussain Khan is one of the greatest north Indian classical musicians of his generation. He belongs to the Imdadkhani Gharana, a north Indian school of sitar and surbahar (known at times as bass sitar).
Khan has performed at all the prestigious music festivals in India - throughout Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. In 2007, he was the featured artist at musical concerts celebrating India’s 50th anniversary of independence at Carnegie Hall in New York, Paramount Theatre in Seattle, and Meyerson Symphony Theatre in Dallas. He was also the solo artiste representing India at a special performance at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in Geneva, commemorating India’s independence the same year. His album Rain was also nominated for the Grammy Awards. HT Education spoke to the maestro about his passion for music.
Do you think enough is being done by the government to promote a love for classical music in schools and colleges?
Not even close. The government does absolutely nothing to promote classical music apart from giving people some prestigious awards or medals, now and then. That’s about it. The government is too pre-occupied with themselves to do anything for the spread awareness of classical music in this country
Does interest in music help a person earn a living?
Well, definitely, it does. It is like any other profession. It’s all a matter of putting in hard work and dedication. A lot of people have taken up music as a career and earn through it. Like any other profession, success does not favour you if you don’t put in your full effort and respect your work.
How does one ‘step’ on the path to greatness? Sheer hard work or luck? How did you achieve success?
That can be accurately answered by someone who has achieved greatness, I’m not there yet. But I think that greatness can only be achieved if you work really hard and be honest to yourself. You need to do whatever you do with dignity and integrity and hope for the best.
I’ll give the most clichéd but the most accurate answer to this, it’s both. Sheer hard work and luck go hand in hand. I personally know people who have worked really hard but destiny has not favoured them. Whatever you do, if you don’t work really hard, both physically and mentally, for what you want then it won’t be a success. Every established musician has put in thousands of hours of practice and they know the value of it.
One moment in your life that you cannot forget…
I’ve had so many beautiful moments in my life that it’s very tough for me to choose any one. I have spent such good times with my teachers, my family, travelling with my friends, while performing in concerts. So much so, that it’s difficult for me to specify any single moment as the best.
Success to you is...
Having the love and respect of your audience is what defines success for me.
Music to you is...
It is a very important part of my life and an instrument of my expression that I share with the world.
The biggest compliment?
I’m fortunate to have such kind people in my life who have always showered me with exceptional compliments for my work. I appreciate and enjoy when people understand the kind of work that I’m doing. Compliments are very important because they spur and inspire me to do better.