Musicians bridge the generation gap
Legendary sitarist Vilayat Khan’s son Shujaat and grandson Azaan collaborate on a world music album.
He is the son of vocalist and sitarist Shujaat Khan and the grandson of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan, with music roots going back eight generations, all torchbearers of the Imdadkhani gharana. Yet, Azaan chose to play classical music on the Spanish guitar over the sitar.
Father Shujaat, however, has no complaints: “I faced the pressure of being Vilayat Khan’s son and the inevitable comparisons. So I decided to let Azaan do his own thing. He began to explore world music through his own band and his compositions,” says Shujaat. The father-son duo has performed together at concerts and recently collaborated on an album brought out by Sa Re Ga Ma. Satrangee is an eclectic mix of folk, classical, fusion, sufi, sitar, ghazal and geet. It has a few songs written and composed by Azaan and some folk songs that are so old that their musical roots can’t be traced.
Azaan says, “This isn’t the first album we’ve done together, but it was our first time working with folk singers from Bihar and Kashmir. It was a challenge bringing my father, who is a classically trained singer, and these musicians together. I took three-four months to source some of the songs and singers and revisit some of my earlier compositions, and another two months to record them.”
Fortunately for him, the end result got the approval of his father, who enjoys working with younger musicians. “They take him out of the familiar classical, folk and ghazal mould into a whole new world,” says Shujaat, who has recorded over 60 albums and was nominated for a Grammy for Best World Music album for his work with the band, Ghazal, and Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor.
‘Hindi films? Why not!’
Azaan says he’s open to composing for Hindi cinema: “Not commercial Bollywood, but definitely a crossover movie,” he says, adding that if there’s a song suited for his father’s voice that’s technically sound, he’d want to record with him. “Maybe a semi-classical sufi song.”
Shujaat admits he gets a lot of offers. “Most fall through because I can’t sing item numbers like ‘Jalebi bai’. Pravesh Bharadwaj’s Mr Singh/Mrs Mehta (2010) was an exception,” says the Ustad who composed six numbers for this album — a mix of sufi, ghazals and ballads. He even sang ‘E khuda’. His father, Ustad Vilayat Khan, had composed music for Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar (1958).