Meet Zanuski, the bright new musician in town
Sometimes when you listen to a song, you feel like it would fit right into a film. That’s the best way to describe Zanuski, aka Zahaan Khan’s EP series, called Free Flow Mon Ami, the second edition of which he released during the lockdown. It’s great then that Zahaan’s pursuing a virtual orchestration course to start working as a film music composer. Films − an industry that his mother, actress Zeenat Aman, dominated for years.
“Zanuski is the first thing my mom called me – it’s my pet name,” the 30-year-old smiles. “Except when she’s mad at me. Then it’s Zahaan.”
A multi-genre house
Growing up, the only rule in the house where everything from Sukhbir to ABBA to Gypsy Kings (his mum’s choice) to pop band Blue played on MTV and VH1 all day was: “If it sounds good, it doesn’t matter if it’s the pop-est song ever or a band making music out of a garage in Japan.”
This is visible in Zahaan’s almost multi-genre work today. And to think it all began because he picked up the guitar in school to impress girls! “Soon I was picking the chords of songs like Lobo’s I’d Love You To Want Me,” he says. All of which has today led to the EP series, which caters to a global audience − though not his mom! “This may be a little over her head. She loves the instrumental piano piece I released sometime back called Acumulus,” he says.
Not that Zahaan hasn’t already made his Bollywood debut. He has two songs – Toh Kya Hua and Teri Pyaari Foto – to his name, which he tags as a ‘side hustle’. Is that why we can’t find it on social media? “Not to be disrespectful of the people I’ve worked with, but some songs are just opportunities. It was something I created for someone else. With these projects, things get so stripped from the original idea and direction. You spend two months going back and forth and it just becomes something else altogether. Then all you care about is finishing and cashing your cheque,” he says.
Of course, the acting bug was there. “It’s almost cultural for every family to pressurise their kid to join the family business, whether it’s engineering or selling diamonds or textiles. And I was no exception,” he says. He even attended acting classes and auditioned, which led him to believe he wasn’t cut out for it. “I was done being indecisive between acting and music. Besides, so much of it depends on who you are and what kind of musician you want to be. Do you want to kiss a** and chase money? For example, as an actor, do you just want to work with Karan Johar to open the doors or do you want to do something a bit more aligned with your sensibilities?” he explains.
Big shoes to fill
There was also the pressure of the fact that his mom had left such a legacy. “Which is why I had to try acting to know it’s something I don’t want to do. At the end of the day, my mom is like every mom – she’s happy if I’m happy,” he says.
Zahaan was six when he first realised his mom was famous. “The weight of her fame and the extent of it came much later. There was a Russian lady in her 60s who travelled to Bombay for a few years to meet her on her birthdays. The lengths people will go to express their feelings is bewildering,” he says.
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From HT Brunch, December 6, 2020
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