The singer confesses
He is special. Not only for being an acclaimed Sufi musician but because he is our living link to the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Dhruv Sangari-Bilal trained under under the wings of that late Qawwali legend between 1995 and 97. These days, with the pandemic drying up the concert scene, it’s rare to see Mr Bilal on stage. Like so many artists, he has been forced to cut down on live performances. Whatever, he was sporty enough to become a part of the Proust Questionnaire series, in which folks from diverse backgrounds are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, so as to explore the lives, thoughts, values and experiences of fellow citizens.
In his 30s, he chatted on WhatsApp video from his drawing room in Jangpura, in company with wife, Anam, and 3-month-old daughter, Rumi, who keeps the couple awake the whole night long.
The principal aspect of your personality
Making sense of my world through music and poetry. Rooted in the esoteric. An aversion to labels of any kind
Your favorite occupation.
Used to be simultaneously devouring three or four of my favourite books curled up in bed with easy access to my harmonium (and munchies). Now it’s just holding my baby-daughter in my godi and singing to her
If not yourself, who would you be?
Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Where would you like to live?
In all these places—Delhi, Ajmer, Konya and Lahore
Your favourite colour and flower
Blue, any shade. Desi Gulab: you can eat it, wear it, inhale its fragrance and most importantly, offer it at our beloved Khwaja Sahab’s resting place
Your favourite bird
Seagulls. Love the way they look all stern and reprimanding while scarfing anything their beaks may encounter
Your favourite poets
Mevlana Rumi, Baba Fareed, Amir Khusrau, Rahim, Bulleshah, Bedam, Ghalib, Neruda, Brecht, Faiz, Iqbal and Shiv Batalvi
What characters in history do you most dislike?
Those who made cruelty, oppression and corruption appear normal, natural and expedient
Your favourite food and drink
Steak & potatoes, sushi & poke, kabab & biryani, scones with clotted cream & Turkish Delight, Rooh Afza & Ayran. All to be topped off with espresso lungo and an irresistible mulethi paan
Your favourite names
Naintara, Parizad, Kabir, Anamta, Farid, Siddharth are some favourites
The military event you admire the most
As a student of history I have been an admirer of the tactics, bravery and strategies of the armed forces of various erstwhile states such as the Spartan, Sassanid, Mongol, Rajput, Ottoman and even Viking. However, personally, I abhor the notion of making war for territorial gains, resources or glory. War is hell and a sometimes necessary evil which must not be romanticized
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with
To be able to converse in seven languages with native ease
What is your present state of mind?
A restless desire for life to return to normal, and once again be filled with concert tours and recording commitments