Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain says he enjoys playing for the overseas audience who are more “enlightened” in the age of technology but he still misses the “Wah Wah” by the Indian audience back home.
The 59-year-old Hindustani classical musician, who started touring at the tender age of 12 and still makes the audience spellbound, feels the new media has enabled new enriching experiences for him while performing in foreign countries.
“It is fabulous to play on stage in this age. When they arrive in the hall, they pretty much know who you are what you do and what they expect from you. This is all due to the media, the Internet and Google. So it has made our job as performers much easier to perform on stage and play. You need not stop or water down to explain things,” Zakir told PTI in an interview.
Having performed to a house-full audience over the weekend at the prestigious Lincoln Center in the Big Apple, Zakir said the audience of today has become so well informed about art and culture.
“It is lot of fun to just put your head down into the music, get into the rhythms and knowing fully well that the audiences are there... so it is fabulous to play on stage in this age,” he added.
The musician, who won the Grammy Award for ‘Best World Music Album’ in 1992, is currently on ‘Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion’ tour and has performed in Seattle and New York.
He will also be performing in dozen other cities including Tampa, Florida, Amherst, Boston, Chicago, Lexington, Kentucky, Buffalo, Ithaca, Burlington, Vermont and Hanover.
“The audience is divided up almost evenly between the native Americans and people from India and other parts of Asia. There has been great response from the people. It has been a really really heartwarming response and support from the audience,” Zakir said.
Sharing his experience of performing in India and overseas, he said, “When we play in India, we are used to responses like ‘Wah Wah’, ‘Kya Baat Hai’ but when we play outside India, people are focused, quite receptive and very disciplined but then you miss that little egging by the Indian audience, who at frequent intervals let you know that you are having a good time.”
“But now with 35-40 years of Indian music being performed all over the world, the audience know how to listen to Indian music and how to respond to it, how to react to it and show their support to the artist if and when needed,” Zakir added.
The musical genius also brought along with him talented Indian artists like drummers Taufiq Qureshi, Navin Sharma, Sridar Parthsarathy and the Motilal Dhakis from Bengal, as well as Sarangi player Sabir Khan and the violin duo of Ganesh and Kumaresh.
“It is almost like through the rhythms and melodies, a birds eye views of the lay of the land in India and the way of the people vis-a-vis the culture. There are 200 percussionist traditions I know of across India. I have only been able to scratch the surface since 1996. So there is still more to do,” Zakir said.