What was the response to your album on Ghalib with Sonu Niigaam?
It released and did very well. We went touring with it. The shows were hits too. Now I'm working on Caravan-e-Ghazal. I've chosen poems by nine poets from Ghalib to Faraz.
Do you still believe that ghazal gayaki is alive and kicking?
Absolutely. Trends may come and go but art forms don't die. I have tried out fusion in ghazals but that doesn't mean my ghazal gayaki isn't pure. I get thousands of emails from across the world.
One 16-year-old-boy even came down from London. He knew most of the ghazals by Ghulam Ali saab, Mehdi Hassan saab and me by heart. He had ghazals on his mobile phone too. Mehdi Hassan is not been keeping well I believe. Yes, he has been bed-ridden for quite some time now. I'm very close to him.
I told him that it doesn't matter if he can't sing today and that he doesn't go for concerts any more. His contribution to the art of ghazals is unparalleled.
Could you tell me something about your concert next week in Mumbai?
It's called Khazana. It's a two-day festival dedicated to the memory of Begum Akhtar saahiba. The festival is in its seventh year now. Pankaj Udhas initiated the festival. Pankaj, Penaaz Masani, Abhijeet Pohankar and I will be performing.
Any particular reason for the dedication to Begum Akhtar?
Because she is the most iconic figure in the world of ghazals. K L Saigal and she started out almost together.
Why aren't you singing for the movies any more?
The songs are electronica and pop. I don't want to sing for films because they require highpitched voices.
They don't need basic and soft voices like mine. I don't blame the composers for this though. They are composing songs which speed up the tempo. We have gone the Hollwood way. Frankly, I don't think playback singing is the end of the world.
What's the update on your sons Adnan and Shayan?
They're doing what most children do at their age. They're both studying. Shayan is following his musical instincts.
He's learnt the guitar and is now learning the piano. He played with me at the Kala Ghoda festival. You may wonder why my kids aren't getting into the ghazal mode. That's because I'm not forcing anything on them. I respect Adnan's decision to study mass communication and Shayan's wish to pursue the kind of music he wants to.