The quartet of Syed Salman, Syed Aqeel, Syed Shakeel and Syed Bilal are a treat for music lovers
They look like any ordinary children at first sight but once on the job, they leave you mesmerised and asking for more. Meet Syed Salman and his siblings, the only group of child qawwals in the old city and probably in the country too.
Children of Syed Kamal Warsi, they perform at various dargahs across the city on specific days. The four-member troupe is no less than any of the polished artistes and draw equal cheers and applause for each performance of theirs.
The eldest of them, Syed Salman (14), heads the troupe, while his brothers, Syed Akheel, (11), Syed Shakeel, (8) and Syed Bilal, (5) comprise the orchestra and chorus.
Popular at dargahs
The quartet is quite popular at dargahs across the city and in the adjoining districts. They are specially called to perform on occasions considered to have religious significance.
Syed Salman plays the ‘dholak’, his younger brother, Akheel, plays the harmonium, while the other two siblings lend the chorus. “We have inherited our art from our father. We used to accompany him to performances and developed a passion for it,” informs the team leader, Syed Salman. It is their perfect rendition and their innocent faces that catch the attention of people. In fact they have perfected the art so well leaving even the seniors behind when it comes to grabbing the attention of the crowds.
“We hear the qawwalis on TV and practice them. At times we hear and directly come and sing them,” informs Syed Akheel, the lead singer of the group. They sing the compositions of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Amjad Sabri, Aslam Sabri and the likes.
Kamal Warsi, their father, says “I used to play harmonium as well as sing qawwalis, while my wife and children accompanied me and after watching me the children learned it. I have not tutored them nor have they attended any music school. It is god’s gift,” he explains.
The family survives on donations and stays in a rented room in the old city. The ardent wish of Mr. Kamal Warsi is to see his children perform on a big stage one day.