'My raag and sur are my ice cream'
Raahat Fateh Ali Khan will be the Sufi mentor on an NDTV Imagine reality show. He talks to Janaki Vishwanathan.
Your name is always connected to your paternal uncle, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Has that worked for you?
I think whatever I am, wherever I am is because of the Almighty. (Laughs) I've worked hard to get here too. But I haven't got that far yet.
There is more inter-exchange of Indo-Pak film and music today. Was it ever difficult for you?
I've been travelling to India since 1995. My struggle period was between 1996 and 2000. I sang for Paap in 2003, that brought me into the limelight.
What's the difference between the audiences here in India and back home?
It's pretty much the same. There are many people who prefer rock and pop.. few like ghazals and Sufi music. India has a larger audience obviously because it's a bigger country.
Isn't Sufi music being overused?
I think that's a good thing.
How has it been singing for the Bombay movies?
I've had the most fun with VishalShekhar (Om Shanti Om), Vishal Bharadwaj (Omkara) and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (Jhoom Barabar Jhoom).
What sort of music do you personally feel close to?
Any sort. As long as the sur and taal have something new to contribute.
Junoon… Kuchh Kar Dikhaane Ka on NDTV Imagine is your first reality show. Nervous?
Not really. It's a fun show. All the contestants have been selected after rigorous rounds of elimination.
Isn't it unfair to have the viewers pick one genre of music over another?
Even if they do, it won't take away the credibility of any one genre.
Sufi or maybe you'd like to call it qawwali music has its place. It will never lose that.
Most reality shows stage fights to boost TRPs.
Then those aren't reality shows.
What about Junoon?
(Laughs) I can assure you we won't be fighting. I know Ilaji (Arun) and Anand Raaj Anand very well. If there's a disagreement, no one will sit back quietly but we'll try to convey our point across with as little drama as possible.
What do you like watching on TV?
I hardly get time to watch anything.
What do you think of remixes?
Quite a few of your songs have been remixed..
No, they have been redone and I've done them myself.
When you remix a song, there's the danger of ruining the basic dhun. Only the person who has created or sung the song can redo it.
Which singer have you admired?
I enjoyed Kishore Kumar songs when I was in school and college. I love his Chingaari koi bhadke in particular. His bass voice suited most heroes.
Which singers from today's lot do you think have it in them?
Sonu Nigaam, Shaan, Kunal Ganjawala and Sukhwinder Singh. They've done some great work.
Can you tell us about your family?
I have two daughters and a son.
My son is learning music.
(Laughs) He always claims he has learnt it from Khan saab (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan).
How many hours a day do you practise?
Six hours at least.
Has there ever been a time when you just eat ice cream without worrying about your throat?
(Laughs) My raag and sur are my ice cream.