It Takes Two To Enthral

13 Jan

It takes two to enthral

What happens when two ustads meet? Their chemistry is magical, says CHITRA SWAMINATHAN

DELIGHTFUL DUO Zakir Hussain and Sultan Khan

What happens when a humble sultan of the sarangi and a flamboyant tabla wizard meet? There’s an air of anticipation as they move back and forth in time, melding the past with the present. There’s a burst of creative energy and expression. And there’s a good dose of masti too.

So it was this past weekendwhen Ustad Sultan Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain performed together in aid of Concern India Foundation. The veteran sarangiya though steeped in tradition is constantly engaged in reinventing himself in a liberalised world of music. And he has never felt better. The 60-plus ustad is next preparing to match strings with the legendary guitarist Carlos Santana. “These days I live life to the fullest and am more occupied than ever before. I enjoy the company of young people. I am a gregarious person,” he laughs.

Credited with bringing the sarangi to the fore as a solo instrument (along with his guru Pandit Ram Narayan), Sultan Khan has performed with the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, George Harrison, Madonna and Duran Duran. And after Sanjay Leela Bhansali urged him to sing “Albela sanam aayo re” in “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,” followed by his super hit album “Piya Basanti” with playback singer Chitra, the veteran artiste’s throaty voice is quite sought after in Bollywood these days.

“At the fag end of my career a world of opportunities is knocking at my door. Anyway, I have no regrets and I’m enjoying every moment — . Imagine, the song I have sung for a forthcoming Hindi film “Big Boss” has been picturised on me?”

Though his latest album with Shreya Ghoshal has not met with the same response as “Piya Basanti,” Khan says more than sales figure, it’s the acceptance that matters to him. “The songs are on the lips of many youngsters, that’s enough,” quips the senior Khan.

He is hardly the kind to condemn all that is new and live in the past. “Befriend the young, understand and appreciate them both at home and work. Moving with the times does not mean foregoing values. .”

To prove his point, he adds, “There have been great tabla players before Zakir Hussain, including his legendary father Allah Rakha. But Zakir has succeeded in arousing the curiosity of the world about this humble instrument and making it an integral part of international bands. .”

Zakir speak

Making light of his achievement, Zakir says, “Luckily, when I entered the scene the walls had come down. So it was easy to make my presence felt globally. Every generation witnesses change. It depends how much it seeks from it. Tomorrow, someone else will step in to take forward the work done so far.”

The king of Indian percussion has collaborated with several Western maestros such as Mickey Hart and John McLaughin and today, the tabla is on a roll. “There’s fusion all around — in food, fashion, thinking, relationships and of course, music. So you see kurti on jeans, curry with pizza… it’s all about mix and match today,” he smiles.

Zakir has a way with rhythm and words too. The ustad has the audience eating out of his hands, whether it is with his uninhibited playing, uttering of the complex bols, interesting anecdotes, clear explanations or his sense of humour. Not often do you see a classical musician engaging in such a one-to-one with the audience.

Hindu On Net

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