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'Fusion music is a sort of flirtation'

Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan talks about music festivals, reality shows and his sons with Rachana Dubey.

art and culture Updated: Dec 13, 2007 20:41 IST
Rachana Dubey

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in a sarodspeak with Rachana Dubey.

Apparently, you were excluded from Gwalior's Tansen Music Festival.
Sarod Ghar in Gwalior is my ancestral home, now a museum. Now, when I'm in a position to return what I owe to that land, I'm denied the opportunity .

I've always been invited to all the music festivals in Madhya Pradesh. The institution that organises the Tansen Music Festival has several bureaucrats on board and hardly any sangeet hastis. <b1>

There's constant complaint that classic music is dying. What would you suggest to save it from extinction?
I think it's the responsibility of us artistes and the janta that listens to our music.. to save it. Today, we're competing with hundreds of television channels.

But the fact that our shows run to packed houses, whether it's me or any other classical artiste means there is an audience.

Do you favour the fusion of modern and classical music?
Fusion music is appealing at times. I don't completely discourage or encourage it. I feel it's a sort of flirtation, something for temporary satisfaction. <b2>

Why haven't you ever composed for Hindi films?
I believe a music director is 'guided' in several ways in Bollywood. Producers and directors demand a certain kind of music - it sends a shiver down my spine to even think of appeasing so many people.

I don't disrespect the industry - I have several friends out there. If something worthy comes my way, I'm still open to composing for movies.

You've just cut an album of Christmas songs on sarod.
Yes. They're mellow Christmas songs. I thought..why not play carols on sarod?

What do you make of the countless reality shows on television today?
They are a great commercial concept. (Laughs) They've tarnished the guru-shishya relationship. Today, gurus on reality shows are laughing and teaching their shagirds to sing.

Worse, they teach them to stand on stage holding a mike and dance. So, it becomes tough to decide which category of gurus they belong to.

Much was expected of your sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali, but they still seem to live under your shadow.
I don't agree with this. I'm happy with the progress my sons have made over the years. I'm amazed to hear their compositions. They have a distinct identity as classical musicians. They sing, they model, they compose.

Sonu Nigam became a household name with Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, but the show didn't help your sons.
Maybe, Sonu suddenly left the show when it was doing fabulously because of some disagreements. They asked my sons to take over immediately .

I'm proud of the way they took it from where Sonu had left. My sons had never sung a line of a Hindi movie song. The show required them to sing movie songs. They were not prepared mentally for that. They pulled it off for a year or so.. then quit because they realised it wasn't their calling.