‘Mu­sic was never forced onto us’

Broth­ers Amaan and Ayaan Ali Ban­gash tell us how their fa­ther’s pres­ence on stage in­tim­i­dates them; add that In­di­ans don’t have it in their DNA to per­form in en­sem­bles

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - City - - Entertainment - Nikita Deb

Young sarod artistes, Amaan Ali Ban­gash and Ayaan Ali Ban­gash, sons of Us­tad Am­jad Ali Khan, have de­vel­oped a loyal fan fol­low­ing for them­selves over the years. In an in­ter­view with HT Café, the broth­ers talk about clas­si­cal mu­sic, their re­la­tion­ship with their fa­ther, and their com­pe­ti­tion with each other.

How has be­ing a clas­si­cal mu­si­cian in­flu­enced your life?

Amaan: The whole jour­ney of be­com­ing a clas­si­cal mu­si­cian changes you as a per­son. It calms you down, makes you hum­ble and spir­i­tual. It’s a re­li­gion by it­self. Ayaan: We were for­tu­nate to be born in a house­hold where mu­sic was in the air we breathed. At every stage of our life, our fa­ther cat­e­gor­i­cally con­veyed to us that mu­sic is the great­est wealth he has. That stayed in our sub­con­scious, even though we were not told that we had to be­come mu­si­cians.

Did you ever want to pur­sue any other pro­fes­sion?

Amaan: When you are grow­ing up, your par­ents en­rol you in some ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity, which in our case was mu­sic. I don’t know when that tu­ition be­came a hobby, when that hobby turned into a pas­sion, and when the pas­sion be­came a pro­fes­sion; it was a very nat­u­ral process. It was never forced onto us, but it was ob­vi­ously ex­pected of us. When you are born into a mu­si­cal fam­ily, where your un­cle is a

mu­si­cian, your grand­fa­ther was a mu­si­cian, and your fa­ther is a mu­si­cian, there are com­par­isons. And if Ayaan bhai and I did not do this [learn mu­sic], there would have been a big ques­tion: why didn’t you do mu­sic?

Ayaan: When we were young and went to con­certs, very se­nior peo­ple would come up to us and say that they had heard [our grand­fa­ther] Us­tad Haafiz Ali Khan saab and our fa­ther [Us­tad Am­jad Ali Khan], and they were wait­ing to hear us. So they ex­pected [us to play mu­sic as well]. And as you grow, your aware­ness grows as well. When you are young and on the stage, you look cute, you love the at­ten­tion, but it’s be­yond that. Amaan bhai and I never took our stage for granted. We have al­ways tried our best.

How is your re­la­tion­ship with your fa­ther on the stage?

Ayaan: On the stage, he is our fa­ther, but he is like a teacher as well. When I am ac­com­pa­ny­ing him on stage, and when he looks at me, it gets very in­tim­i­dat­ing. The change from the role of a guru to a fa­ther is very ef­fort­less [for him]. Sim­i­larly for us, the change from the role of a son to a stu­dent is very ef­fort­less. As we grew older, we started our own jour­ney for­ward. Amaan: His aura is so strong that for any­body else around him, it be­comes very difficult to per­form.

Are you com­pet­i­tive with each other?

Amaan: We are com­pet­i­tive in a beau­ti­ful and in­spi­ra­tional way. Ayaan: I think we draw in­spi­ra­tion from each other. We have found our own jour­ney. We have our likes and dis­likes. Our na­tures are ex­tremely dif­fer­ent and your na­ture is re­flected in your mu­sic. So even though we have got the same train­ing, Amaan bhai would ex­e­cute the same com­po­si­tion in his own way. I am not say­ing we have our own styles, but be­cause we are dif­fer­ent hu­man be­ings, we have our own voice and vi­sion. In west­ern coun­tries, we have a lot of orches­tra per­for­mances, but in In­dia we have more solo per­for­mances. Why do you think that hap­pens? Ayaan: West­ern mu­sic has a very unique tra­di­tion of hav­ing a writ­ten score. All th­ese great mu­si­cians such as Mozart and Beethoven had the cul­ture of writ­ing orches­tra. In In­dia, we evolved from folk mu­sic to clas­si­cal mu­sic. It was all an oral tra­di­tion; it was all im­pro­vised. Now, we fi­nally have a few or­ches­tras in Mum­bai, but I think by na­ture, we don’t have the kind of DNA to be an en­sem­ble.

What are you cur­rently busy with?

Ayaan: We are re­leas­ing an al­bum next month with a re­bab virtue. It’s called The Jour­ney: Rabab To Sarod. It shows the jour­ney of the sarod from re­bab, be­cause the sarod was ini­tially mod­i­fied from the re­bab. This [the mod­i­fi­ca­tion] hap­pened in Cen­tral Asia and it then came to Mad­hya Pradesh. We have tried to con­vey the story through mu­sic. The al­bum will fea­ture a bril­liant re­bab player from Afghanistan who now lives in ex­ile in Ger­many, as all the artistes from Afghanistan have mi­grated. His name is Daud Khan Sadozai. In this al­bum, abba (fa­ther) has played one track, so he has kind of blessed the al­bum.

The whole jour­ney of be­com­ing a clas­si­cal mu­si­cian changes you as a per­son. AMAAN ALI BAN­GASH, SAROD PLAYER

PHOTO: VIKRAM BAWA

Ayaan Ali Ban­gash

Us­tad Am­jad Ali Khan

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