Rashid Ali talks about his musical journey
“That is John McLaughlin and Srinivas, right? Amazing…,” Rashid Ali was all immersed in the music piece being played in the hotel lobby of Magic Days. The singer-guitarist-lyricist-composer was in the city to shoot for Music Mojo, a music programme on Kappa TV featuring live studio-recorded sessions.
Rashid, yet another A.R. Rahman-find, first sang for the Oscar winner in Parthale Paravasam and got the big break with ‘Kabhi kabhi Aditi…’ from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Born in Hyderabad and brought up in the United Kingdom (U.K.), he has been the resident touring singer and musician of Rahman’s troupe and has played the guitar for many of his film compositions. Rashid’s latest work for Rahman is the duet ‘Nazar laaye…’ with Neethi Mohan in the Dhanush-Sonam Kapoor starrer Raanjhanaa. More from the artiste…
I hope people like the duet ‘Nazar laaye…’. I’ve known Neeti [who sung hits such as ‘Jiya Re…’ from Jab Tak Hai Jaan and ‘Ishqwala Love…’ from Student of the Year] for long since we’ve performed at many of Rahman’s live shows. It was Rahman’s idea to bring us together.
Meeting A. R. Rahman
We met in London over a charity concert and found that we shared a common ground – Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. Ustad had associated with my mother, Farida Ali, for her album and Rahman has a very close association with him. His sons had sung for him ‘Piya Haji Ali’ (Fiza). Also he was intrigued by the fact that I’m into jazz, though my mother is a ghazal singer. He gave me my first song in Parthale Paravasam. Singing in Tamil was quite tough. Later I became a regular of his world tour, mostly as a guitarist and also played the guitar for his songs such as ‘Vellai pookkal…’ (Kannathil Muthamittal) and ‘Luka chuppi’ (Rang De Basanti). A special piece during the tour was me playing the jazz version of ‘O la la…’. He was waiting to give me the right song and that was ‘Kabhi kabhi Aditi…’ I later sang for him in Ada… A Way of Life, Blue, Jhootha Hi Sahi and Ek Deewana Tha and even stepped into to produce my album Call Me Rashid for his music label, K.M. Musiq.
Melody matters a lot, so too the arrangement. You could say my music sensibility is diverse as I listen to all kinds of music. Arabic, Greek, Irish… It is interesting to listen how they come up with different arrangements on their instruments. As for my career, there was a time when people knew me only as a guitarist and not singer. Now, they know me more as a singer than a guitarist. I really plan to do something interesting focussing on instruments. Meanwhile, certain film projects are on the anvil.
Thanks to my mother , Indian music was always a part of my life. She is a ghazal singer. I learnt the guitar for sometime, but later on taught myself various genres, especially jazz, Spanish and Latin music. I used to do gigs in the U.K.
On moving to India
I came back to India because of the music we have here. Having settled in Mumbai, I want to work more in Indian music industry and things don’t happen very fast if you are so far away. There was a delay in releasing my album Call Me Rashid, which featured actor Tabu in the video, a first for her, and for a couple of other projects. It seems things are slowly happening for me. The best thing is independent music and a lot of independent artistes are getting exposure now.
I’ve come here before, once for Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ concert in Kozhikode, and later with my wife, Samia, for a break. But this visit is really special in that it is my first shoot for television after shifting base to India. It was great jamming with the band from Chennai. Their sense of rhythm is amazing and so too their improvisation. There is so much talent in the South.