Mohd Yasin Khan talks about his love for the rabab and his family of musicians.

We are told that it's a 300-year-old instrument. It has a close resemblance to the sarod – a later version of the original rabab. Rabab is a string instrument moulded out of wood with the broad front base in leather and strings in nylon. It is predominantly Afghan in nature and the Pathans love to strum it.

Musician-composer Mohd.Yasin Khan who has been in the profession for last 45 years, plays this archaic instrument apart from the violin, clarinet and the keyboard. He has been associated with music compositions for films ever since Amitabh-Jaya Bachchan starrer Zanjeer's popular song (Yaari hai iman mera yaar meri zindagi) hit the charts. He has composed music for numerous films and played for the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd. Rafi, Shailendra, Jagjit Singh, and so on. Not to say, the Hyderabadi Pathan is also well versed in classical music.

“Music is a hereditary art for us. My grandfathers were musicians of repute in Afghanistan and moved over to India two generations ago, in search of greener pastures. The families settled down in Mumbai (then Bombay). My father Sadiq Khan was a shehnai player and he was my first ustad. I've been told that one of my grandfather was in the Nizam's army. All my brothers are instrumentalists too, settled across the country and abroad. My father was against teaching me a mouth instrument which he felt was a health hazard in later days. So, I was taught the violin and rabab,” briefs the suave Khan.

Under the tutelage of A.S. Ramanjulu and Ustad Ahmed Khan, Yasin was able to play more than one instrument. His ancestors belonged to the Abdul Ghafoor Khan gharana in Afghanistan. He had no mind for academics as music was in his blood and it turned into a passion and his livelihood. “There was no time to study with eight hours practice a day which made me delirious with happiness.”

How many recitals in a month?

“More than recitals, I have Telugu film industry beckoning me to compose music for their films. A few stage shows once a while but then except for special traditional occasions, I hardly play the rabab. For most part it is the Composing music for movies takes care of my daily bread. And I am comfortably placed and content, not hankering for more money,” he says humbly.

You take a look at the fairly big hall with bare minimal furniture into which you were ushered a few minutes ago and offered a seat on the tiwasi with bolsters to prop you up against a wall. Happiness lies in contentment. Surprisingly, none of the four sons are into music. And predictably so, especially when the sound of music muffles the moolah, it makes men wiser.

On request, he takes up the rabab sits cross-legged and plays an Arabic tune dhun followed by a Pathani dhun transporting you into the heavens. And with the sweet music lingering in your ears and mind, you take leave of this unique musician.