Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is widely credited with putting the sarod on the world map but the musician, amongst India’s best known, says his first love is the tabla and not the stringed instrument.
Khan, in an interview to Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor on Sansad TV, said he was so drawn to the tabla as a child that his “worried father” hid the musical instrument from him for a few months.
“The tabla is my first love. As a child I was drawn towards the tabla that my father got so worried that it was hidden from me for a few months. But the tabla is very important for every musician to understand the rhythm, the ‘lay’. I encourage many young tabla players also, they were unknown but talented people,” he revealed.
Asked about what made him choose music as his field, the sarod exponent said “every human being is born with sound and rhythm, some realise and some don’t realise”.
“There is the world of sound and the world of language. Naturally people are more busy with the world of language. I could not understand the world of language… So thank god I live in the world of sound because through sound I cannot manipulate. If I am out of tune you’ll get to know, it is so transparent,” he explained.
Born to sarod maestro Haafiz Ali Khan, he is the sixth generation in the legendary line of the Senia Bangash School and has performed internationally since the 1960s.
Calling himself “very fortunate” for being born into a family of musicians, the 75-year old said he salutes all the big names — including Pandit Ravishankar, Ustad Alla Rakha, Ustad Allauddin Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Pandit Kumar Gandhrava — for doing it on their own without parents who were musicians.
“.. They all made such a difference. What a contribution. And their parents were not musicians, so I salute them. My respect to them. It is an advantage that you are born in a family of musicians,” he added.
That said, he also argued that not every person who is born in the family of musicians “achieve everything and get what they want”.
Khan’s two sons Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, like their father, are sarod players and represent the seventh generation of the musical lineage.
And the eighth generation, from the looks of it, is already on its way to follow the footsteps of their ancestors.
“On my 75th birthday, my grand-children gave me a surprise, a musical tribute. Ayaan has two boys — nine years old. They played Rag Tilak Kamod. It is on YouTube. Since they are not going to school due to the pandemic, they are practising music for two hours a day now. So they are into music, they are enjoying playing music,” said the visibly happy Khan.
For the unversed, Khan’s family is also credited for inventing sarod by adapting it from the Afghan rabab.
“There is a reason (for) invention. The rabab was not expressive, sarod was more expressive. Just like sitar, the ancient instrument in our country is veena, but sitar became more expressive,” he said.
The newly launched Sansad TV, a news channel combining the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha TV, has a host of chat shows on its list being hosted by politicians, senior government officials and experts including Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Karan Singh, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi.