Ustad Amjad Ali Khan needs no introduction. One of the most popular sarod players in the Indian classical music tradition, Khan is also the sixth generation musician in the Senia Bangash school of music. Last December, he released a book on his father and guru Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan. An honourary doctorate was also conferred on him recently. In this interview, he talks about that as well as the ever-evolving music scene in the country.
You were recently awarded a doctorate for your contribution to Indian classical music. How does it feel?
Every award at every stage of one’s life is an encouragement and a testimony of your journey. I am very happy and honoured to have received the degree of Doctor in Literature (honoris causa) at the 57th annual convocation of Jadavpur University.
How do you draw a line between the professional and the personal with your sons Amaan and Ayaan?
I never wanted to create two more Amjad Ali Khans.
I gave both Amaan and Ayaan the freedom to develop their musical minds and tastes in the most natural way. Today, I feel that they are both very blessed with a mind of their own musically, and also have their distinctive flavours as artistes. Today, they perform more solo and duet concerts than concerts along with me! God has been kind.
What’s your take on the present music scene in India?
The scene is extremely bright. More and more youngsters have taken up music as their profession and are doing well. I see so much talent, which, perhaps, I hadn’t seen 20 years ago.
The young artistes today are also very fortunate to have so many platforms where they can project their hard work and skill.
Do you think the face of Indian classical music has changed over the past couple of decades?
Every era incorporates a new flavour and colour to an existing canvas. Music also finds a new method and feel to every passing year. There is no method or technique to evaluate what’s right or not as classical music is an oral tradition and no book says how it should be executed.
What are the projects you’re working on?
Well, there are quite a few interesting projects lined up including a new concerto.
Who have been your idols and friends in the industry?
I am still a student and I learn constantly, with every passing day. So the list of people is endless. If you read my book, My Father Our Fraternity, I have stated everything. This list starts right from people like Kesarbai Kerar to Abdul Karim Khan. I have been quite a loner in my journey but Amaan and Ayaan are perhaps my two companions in the field now. However, there is so much mutual love and admiration for all my contemporaries.
You are based in Delhi. The recent rape incident in the city shook the nation in an unprecedented way. As a resident of the Capital, what are your views on the vulnerability of girls?
Every rapist should be shot. It’s the most gruesome action of mankind. I don’t have the answer as even education has not been able to create compassion. What’s really contradictory is the fact that we call our nation Bharat Maata!