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Amaan-Ayaan refuse ‘yuva’ award; Sangeet Natak Akademi says an artist is young at 40

Sarod players Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash — sons of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan — tweeted their dissent for the award by SNA. Chairman Shekhar Sen says the award is important because it’s decided by their own fraternity and not the government.

art and culture Updated: Jun 22, 2018 15:37 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Amaan Ali Bangash,Ayaan Ali Bangash,Sangeet Natak Akademi
Sarod players Ayaan Ali Bangash and Amaan Ali Bangash at their residence in Delhi. (PHOTO: Amal KS/HT)

Looks like controversy is far from over for the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2017, by Sangeet Natak Akademi. First, the artist fraternity had been upset that the award was announced a few days late. Now, sarod players Amaan (40) and Ayaan Ali Bangash (38) have refused to accept their joint award in the field of music.

The sons of sarod virtuoso Ustad Amjad Ali Khan tweeted that they will not be accepting the award, which has been given to them without their consent, because they aren’t ‘yuva’. Ayaan’s tweet reads: Our names for Ustad Bismillah Khan ‘Yuva’ Puraskar for the Year 2017 in the field of Music has been announced WITHOUT OUR CONSENT by Sangeet Natak Academy at this stage of our lives after serving the world of music for over twenty five years! @narendramodi @Ra_THORe “

When contacted, Ayaan — who is presently in the US with his brother and father, says, “An award cannot be imposed upon an artist… if it [is] an honour! It is an international rule to take consent from an artist before an award is bestowed.” Amaan, adds: “Personally, awards are all man-made. Love and reward by the almighty means a lot to me… getting love of people and having a full house is an award.”

The Akademi, however, maintains that though the brothers might not want to accept the award but it won’t be given to someone else. Also, this isn’t the first time that an artist has refused to accept an award. Shekhar Sen, chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, says, “Pehle bhi humare yahan aisa hua hai (It has happened earlier, too). Kisi kalakar ko ek category me award diya gaya… the artist said, ‘No, I don’t want this award in this category’. The artist didn’t take the award. Nothing wrong.”

Padma Shri Shekhar Sen, chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi. (PHOTO: Facebook/Shekhar Sen)

An artist himself, Sen, a Padma Shri awardee, says Amaan and Ayaan have their own “viewpoint for not accepting the award”, and he “respects” it. “Previously [the age limit for this award] was 35. But, then the members said that a musician or performing artist is still young at 40. Pt Shivkumar Sharma ji (santoor player) is still young at the age of 80. At 92, Pt Arvind Parikh ji is still playing sitar… Say if one artist is dancing for two hours at the age of 77, usko aap bhuda artist to nahi bol sakte na (You can’t call that artist old)?”

Sen says that changing the age limit won’t help, and the award is important since it’s decided by the artist fraternity. “You make the age limit 35, 45, 49 or 62 — it’s an award chosen by the artist fraternity... Aap kuch bhi karenge, it’s the story of gadhe ke upar baap baithega ya beta baithega (Whatever you do, the story will always remain the same). Amaan-Ayaan, whether they take our award or no, they are our precious artists. It does not make any difference. Sangeet Natak Akademi award is important because it’s not decided by the government but their own fraternity. Vo chahe accept nahi karenge… Bhai, maine apko khana khane ke liye bulaya, aap aye ya nahi, mera nimantran toh tha na (It’s like I invited you for dinner, whether you come over or no, I invited you)….”

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First Published: Jun 22, 2018 15:37 IST