After a gap of 15 years, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt has come out with an audio album with his son Salil Bhatt
Renowned Mohan veena exponent Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and his son and disciple Salil Bhatt, have come out with a new album. In itself, either of them bringing out a new album is nothing unusual. But this time the two have collaborated. Even finding themselves in the same country at the same time is something of a cause for celebration, with their frequent solo tours to nearly 75 countries. So they are proud of this album, named “Generations” (Times Music). To add to the cup of bliss, they have just managed a family vacation to Manali where three generations were together.
Here the father and son put their heads together to answer a few questions. Excerpts:
This new album has come after quite a number of years...
My first album with Panditji came almost 15 years ago. This album has really fulfilled my dream of over almost 15 years.
I can say, time flies, I do not even remember when my last album came with Salil. I have been perennially busy performing all over the world, so when Salil pleaded with me over two years, I gave him five hours to make it happen. He jumped and invited me to a studio in Ahmedabad, treated me to delicious vada-pav and we started the recording and completed all of it in one go. Salil did not do any editing at all, he just got it mastered and we heard it on our way back in Salil’s car.We did this all in under five hours and Salil dropped me at the airport. I flew to America and he celebrated that evening with his friends and relatives and was going crazy with his high adrenaline as always.
Is producing an album for music shop shelves a profitable venture in monetary terms for a classical musician?
Things and times are changing surely, I believe and I also trust that a classical music album can sell very well; we just need the right exposure through print and electronic media.
I am so happy that companies like Times Music and Mystica Music are making so many efforts for classical music. It will become a commercial success by solid promotion through TV channels. Common listeners are fed up of film music now, they want to try classical; we just need them to be aware that classical music is right there on the shelf too to choose over other music genres.
Some feel that today’s generation is incapable of devoting the years of rigorous and disciplined practice required to become a first class musician and that Indian classical music is becoming more packaged, losing the innovative quality only masters can give it...
This is such a big misconception of the older generation. This generation has the best exposure to so much music and so very easily. Those learning classical music can listen to the same raga by a hundred artists and get enriched; this never happened 40 to 50 years ago. In fact, disciples were stopped from listening to music of any other maestro other than their own guru, which had made things so stagnant and all the progress stopped. This changed in my generation to be able to get greater achievements, greater knowledge and experience. I believe that those who keep cribbing about 12 hours of daily practice become labourers rather than musicians. I say that if a musician is not getting the desired result even after slogging 10 hours or more then that person is not meant for music in the first place. Music and musicians are born, they cannot be made. Music is like an instinct. Either one has it or not. It’s very clear and simple.
I believe comparing two entirely different time zones is incorrect; every generation has its own pros and cons.
The new generation is learning so fast only due to the knowledge of their past generation, which luckily they got on computers and mobiles and tabs and i-pads. Life has become so easy and we are living in interesting times indeed.
The generations of Indian classical music are marked both in terms of progeny and students (shishya-parampara).
Are we likely to see an album featuring Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt's shishya-parampara as well? Do you feel it more difficult to build up a team of strong disciples who are not from the family?
I am very happy that music albums of disciples are already in the market. My sitar disciple Amita Dalal has come up with an album called “Sitar Lounge” (Mystica Music) and it's running in the top bestsellers. Manisha Agarwal, my vocal disciple, has her album “Padharo Mhare desh” (Times Music) which was nominated for the GIMA Awards last year. There are many other disciples ready with their releases this very year. I am very much a part of the above mentioned albums and have taken the back seat to promote my talented disciples. The most important thing is that I came up with my album with my son Salil only now in this year; my last album with him was 15 years back. I believe every musician should come up with intense hard work and back-breaking struggle. I do not believe in promoting one’s own son or daughter. Salil is the best example in this case, having come up to such a level on his own. Seven years ago, he became the first Indian musician to perform inside the German Bavarian Parliament and also in Iceland and to do the first artist residency in Taiwan. This is the first time ever when I have even mentioned all these mega achievements of Salil. He will be 42 years old next January and he is performing for over 28 years now. I think now I cannot ignore his music, his milestones and his dynamic style of presentation.