A young woman sporting colourful tattoos, excited seniors accompanied by their grandchildren, young couples, artists and even a group of 20-somethings from Pune — the audience at Sunday’s concert by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons, Ayaan and Amaan, seemed to criss-cross every demographic.
The performance by the famed sarod players was watched by an estimated 800 people at Cross Maidan on Sunday evening; the Citi Concert was part of the Pepe Jeans music section of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
In the first half, the siblings engaged in some serious music and some playful jugalbandi. Then they took to their feet to welcome their father onstage. “As those of the young generation would say, please welcome hashtag guru, hashtag legend, hashtag icon, hashtag Ustad Amjad Ali Khan,” said Ayaan, laughing. The crowd gave Khan a standing ovation, and he began with what he described as one of the most beautiful compositions by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Ekla chalo re’.
The crowd hummed along to the familiar melody, which was followed by a surprise. “After I married, I became familiar with the folk music of Assam,” he said, before launching into a rendition of a folk song from the region. Between performances, the Ustad took out a nail file. “I would like to say that I am not doing this to beautify myself,” he said, to hearty laughter from the audience. “The sarod must be played with the fingernails, to get that crystalclear sound. So every couple of songs, I must perform this filing as well.”
The Ustad also performed an original composition. “I call this Ganesh Kalyan, because I first sung it for the Ganesha festival,” he said. He performed a tribute to the 13th-century Sufi saint, Khusro.
“There is nothing like watching this family perform,” said Anshul Bhushan, 37, a realty broker from Kurla. To conclude the show, the Ustad called on his sons for one last performance — the three men together. This was greeted with thunderous applause. “There couldn’t be a better backdrop for this music than our city,” said Smriti Karun, 45, a homemaker from Khar.