As a part of the Indian music tradition, musicians’ children were expected to take their parents’ professions forward by taking up the same art. The guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student relationship) was an integral part of the field. Though the trend has changed with time, some examples of a musician father as the guru to his child continue to exist in the current milieu.
The most recent to join the bandwagon is Shankar Mahadevan and his older son Siddharth (who has made his Bollywood playback debut with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, the music of which has been composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy). We chatted with a few father-son duos to know about the bond and more.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
“It was a challenge for me to make Amaan show interest in the sarod, but he did eventually. Ayaan blindly followed his elder brother. We are like the best of friends. We have an extremely nice balance between the two bonds — father-son and teacher-student.”
Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan
“We were fortunate that our father let us take our own musical journey. It did take us time to draw the line as to when he was a father and when he was a guru. This realisation happened as we grew older. We feel ecstatic to realise from time to time that our guru is our father. Abba (dad) is god-loving and a religious person, however, his religion is music. The way he switches between roles — father and guru — is effortless.”
Pandit Kartick Kumar
“In the Hindustani classical tradition, a son always followed his father. The tradition has changed over time and the trend has become rare now. My ambition was always to make Niladri a sitarist. So, I used to bury my fatherly sentiments when I was his guru and was extremely strict with him. I started training him when he was only 18 months old. Whenever we sit together, we only talk about the technicalities of music. I keep reiterating the importance of riyaaz (practice) to Niladri.”
“My love for music was cultivated by my father. I was an experiment my father conducted in his lab. Although I represent the fifth generation of sitar players in the family, it was only my father’s ambition to see me as a musician. There is a little guru in him when he’s my father and there is a little father in him when he is my guru. He is my first and last idol.”
Pandit Shivkumar Sharma
“Rahul and I share a duel relationship — he is my son and disciple. He was introduced to music not very early in his childhood. So initially, it was difficult for both of us to handle our relationship. It took some time for him to understand that the two bonds are very different, but now we are quite comfortable. Since he is into fusion music as well, as a guru, I just ensure that he maintains the pure character of Indian classical music.”
“If an artiste is beginning his career and his father is a legend already, it’s challenging for the young artiste to create his own path. But, if you have the mettle in you, the sky is the limit. Being Pandit Shivkumar Sharma’s son was never stressful for me. My father
established the santoor gharana (music school) and now he feels my collaborations with Grammy-winning musicians has made the santoor’s foray into world music.
My father is my guru and it’s a special relationship. His patience is something one can learn from.”
“I always knew Gino would take up music as he showed an inborn fascination for the art. He used to sit by my side during my concerts. Both of us have similar tastes in music and lifestyle. There is a great balance in the exchanges in our personal and professional lives. Whenever we are together, we always talk about music. Gino introduces me to a lot of new music and musicians. For me, he is the best interpreter of my compositions.”
“My father’s body of work is so vast and varied that the benchmark is set way high. Thank god for the drums; at least we get to play together. If I played the piano, it would have been crazy difficult for me to make a mark. Dad never forced me into music. We have an unspoken understanding and an amazing bond over music and Chinese food. At home, he is my dad and on stage, he is a fellow musician, but still my dad. I am always in awe of his patience and optimism.”