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‘Abba is already a winner’

Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan speak on their legendary father, sarod maestro, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
By Rachana Dubey Rachana Dubey | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2010 06:29 PM IST

Amaan and Ayaan AliBoth of you were expected to make your film debut with JP Dutta and the project has been shelved.

Amaan: That’s true. It was a wrong decision on our part to agree to work with Jyothi Prakash Dutta. Ayaan and I signed the film without asking for a bound script. We didn’t know how long it would take to shoot. We weren’t even allowed to take on concerts at that time. We missed out on a lot of plum opportunities in that duration. Reliance was funding the film. The company and JP Dutta had a fall out on some issue and we suffered.

Ayaan: We were extremely excited about working together on a film. JP made us go through acting classes at Kishore Namit Kapoor’s Academy. We learnt polo and horse riding as a part of the course. I don’t regret the course, but certainly regret not taking up concerts.

Didn’t you guys have other offers to fall back on?
Ayaan: Of course we have plenty of other film offers, but they’re not even half as exciting. We got back to our concerts and life looked normal again.

Amaan: I agree... and I’m not in that space anymore. I don’t have the time to go through meetings, profile checks and screen tests. I don’t need to.

Both of you appeared with your father, Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan for the Phir mile sur mera tumhara... video.
Amaan: I’d like to answer that. We’ve shared space with our father at concerts but here we had our father and several other talented artistes across the board to share the video with. Sharing space with Abba was a high. It’s a lovely video.

Your father’s broken sarod made headlines. Why are musicians so particular about that one piece of the musical instrument they play?
Amaan: I have seen my father bonding with his sarod over the years. So I understand that an instrument becomes an artiste’s best friend over the years. They spend so much time together. It’s that instrument that gets them love and respect from the audience. It also helps them run their kitchen.

How would you describe your relationship with each other?
Ayaan: Amaan is my best buddy. I don’t hide anything from him. We discuss everything. We even compete with each other, but in a healthy way.

Amaan: We share our set of friends. Our personalities are completely different. Our way of doing riyaaz is different. But we have so many secrets between us.

Doesn’t your father’s popularity as a sarod player pressurise you to do as well as your father, if not better than him?
Ayaan: He brought us up in a way that we never sensed any pressure. He only taught us to master our craft. We had started doing concerts very young. When some people say that we play like our father, we feel like we’re achievers.

Amaan: My only aim in life is to make Abba proud, by just playing good music. The rest is upto Allah to give me what I deserve.

Honestly, I don’t care about the pressure. At best, it encourages me to perform better. Living under a maestro’s shadow is like sitting under the tree on a sunny day and enjoying the shade.

Did you get special treatment in school and college?
Ayaan: No way! Our parents, specially Mamma, were extremely particular that we didn’t miss school and our music lessons. No teacher or fellow classmate ever treated us as ‘special’ cases.

Amaan: It’s hard to believe but we’ve had a very normal upbringing. We would be scolded if we didn’t study well, Abba was particular about sarod lessons. Thanks to all of that, Ayaan and I are normal and grounded people.

Really? Something to do with girls I’m sure?
Amaan: Bingo! We would often talk about girls. My brother was the shy kind. I was outgoing. We would know which girl found whom of us hot and why.

Ayaan: Thank god! We never fought over girls because we never had the same girl falling for us. Neither did we fall for the same girl.

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