The guru-shishya parampara (teacher-disciple tradition) is probably as integral to Indian classical music as its twin pillars of sur and laya. A glimpse of this master-protege chemistry will be witnessed in the premiering episode of the music series, Coke Studio, tonight (August 17), in which renowned composer AR Rahman will share the stage with his guru, celebrated Hindustani classical vocalist, Ghulam Mustafa Khan.
The episode will also feature the 82-year-old vocalist’s four sons- Murtuza, Qadir, Rabbani and Hasan- and his 12-year-old grandson, Faiz. All five vocalists will be seen collaborating with Rahman on two numbers. “It was a great experience. Not only is Rahman a talented composer, he is also a humble and sincere person. He’s given a chance to many people. He is a rare person,” says Khan, a Padma Bhushan awardee, adding, “Our music is spiritual; when an artiste goes deep into a trance, he can hear the voice of God. And Rahman is very spiritual. You can see it in him when he performs.”
Besides Rahman, Khan is also a guru to many noted Bollywood playback singers like Hariharan, Sonu Nigam, Shaan and Shilpa Rao. “It is Allah’s grace that all of them are doing so well,” says the doyen of the Gwalior and Rampur-Sahaswan gharana (music school) of Hindustani classical music. Murtaza reminisces how the union of three generations in a single performance came together. “Rahman bhai called me from the US saying he would like Khan saab to be part of the show. Later, he called saying he’d like my son, Faiz, also to join. And barely 10 days before the recording, he got in touch to ask if we (he and his brothers) could join in too,” says Murtaza. “It was a memorable experience for all of us because Khan saab is the oldest and Faiz is the youngest person to be part of the show. And between them, they share a difference of 70 years.”
Incidentally, Rahman’s episode on the show also features another never-seen-before collaboration between him and his two sisters- Rayhana and Ishrath (who also happen to be Murtuza’s disciples).