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'Sensationalism has superseded art'

Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is unhappy at the way "politics and sensationalism have overtaken art".

music Updated: Jan 09, 2006 17:07 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is deeply unhappy at the way "politics and sensationalism have overtaken art" and says he'd rather be left in the world of music.

Amjad Ali Khan, 60, whose musical finesse and dexterous fingers have mesmerised the music cognoscente for over 50 years now, said: "Take 2005's Hafiz Ali Khan Awards function held in Gwalior last month, for instance".

"A function essentially to commemorate the 33rd death anniversary of my father, who was also my guru, and honour eminent artists turned into a free for all for political parties".

"But what pained me more was that the media unnecessarily hyped up the unworthy details instead of focusing on the real reason behind organising the event.

"Politics and sensationalism have actually overtaken art. I am really disappointed," Amjad said in an interview.

The soft-spoken Delhi-based artiste, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan fears that the Western cultural onslaught would steadily erode the deep-rooted culture and traditions of India.

The soft-spoken Delhi-based artiste even fears that the Western cultural onslaught would steadily erode the deep-rooted culture and traditions of India.

Amjad Ali Khan, whose first stage performance was at the age of six, lamented that there were no takers for the guru-shishya parampara (teacher-disciple relationship) in the musical world today, a tradition so unique to India.

"My father and guru Hafiz Ali Khan was more a teacher to me than anything else. We were in awe of him and always maintained a distance. He taught me to live for music rather than on music.

"But sadly this is missing today, although I try being a father, guru and friend for my sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash."

He fondly recalls the time spent with his father whose life only revolved around music. Amjad Ali Khan remembers the special moment when then Indian president Rajendra Prasad asked Hafiz Ali Khan if he required any help after awarding him with the Padma Bhushan.

He said: "My father was such a simple human being. Our family was passing through hard times. He could have asked for a government accommodation or land.

"But instead of asking for any special favours, he simply said 'please save Raag Darbari Kaanara. It's losing its purity'. So single-minded was he about music. I feel his presence even today."

But his father suffered in his old age, as he was worried about finding a worthy successor. By then all his contemporaries had all passed on their legacy to their sons but a vacuum remained in the illustrious Bangash family.

Amjad Ali Khan says: "Later he seemed contented when I gained fame and started getting invites to perform at prestigious functions. And perhaps that has been the happiest moment of my life till now."

With a fruitful career that has seen him performing at prestigious music festivals and getting honoured with various awards, including the Padma Vibhushan, Amjad Ali Khan is happy today but finds it difficult to cope with an increasingly crafty world.

"The survival mantra now is to ruthlessly choose one and reject the rest. It's difficult to gel with people like us," he quips.

"I would rather go back to the world of sound and music."

First Published: Jan 09, 2006 16:22 IST