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Band of brothers

NEETI SARKAR
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Chat Pakistani band Raga Boyz aim to bridge the gap between classical and contemporary music

At play Raga Boyz
At play Raga Boyz

When you belong to a family of legends, there's no way you can escape following in their footsteps and being critiqued by standards as high as Mount Everest!

Being the ninth-generation descendants of the celebrated Patiala Gharana family, Pakistani band, the Raga Boyz — comprising Wali Hamid Ali Khan, Inam Ali Khan, and Nayab Ali Khan, the sons of Ustad Hamid Ali Khan — have ventured into today's modern singing, while maintaining their forefathers' great contribution to eastern music.

In an interview, Wali says, “We have a huge responsibility to live up to — from the family as well as the people, and we're blessed to have legends in our who are always there to encourage us to scale greater heights with our music.”

The lineage of the Raga Boyz dates back to Ustad Kaluji, darbar gayake of Maharaja Bhupindar Sing. His legacy was carried forward by his sons, Ustad General Ali Baksh and Ustad Barey Fateh Ali Khan. This family has won five National Awards and two Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the civilian award in Pakistan which recognises individuals who have made a meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of Pakistan, world peace, cultural or other significant public endeavours.

Given their musical tradition, steering off the beaten track was not the easiest thing to do. The band's forte is that they perform all genres of music, from pop, rock, R&B and heavy metal to Sufi, classical, and fusion. However, their general emphasis is on classical music. Wali says, “Initially, there were many objections about the kind of music we were playing. Our father too was not really for us experimenting with classical music, but once he saw that we were grounded in our belief that this would work and that this is what we're good at, he's lent us all his support.”

Their aim is to bridge the gap between classical and contemporary music, Wali says. “Making this kind of music was inevitable. We have all studied music from a very early age but each of us was inclined to other forms too.”

The vocalist talks about the kind of chemistry the brothers share. “We're not just brothers but we're friends and band mates and that makes our bond stronger. We don't have time for family squabbles and even if any of us has an issue with the other, we deal with it and make sure that when it's our music that's doing the talking, everything else is forgotten. It's very important for any band to not allow what happens internally to show on stage.”

Of music made and produced in India, Wali believes, “There's way too much talent in India. One artiste just outshines the other. We always love performing in your beautiful country.”

And would they consider foraying into Bollywood as playback singers like many of their fellow Pakistani performers? “Who wouldn't want to collaborate with stalwarts of musicians in India?” Wali responds.

Long sessions of riyaz and their phenomenal creativity have chiselled the voices that shot Raga Boyz into the limelight as they take the world by storm.

NEETI SARKAR

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