Seven strings to the rainbow

Shahid Parvez Khan (Hindustani Instrumental Music-Sitar) at a function in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty  

A small boy of three years embarked upon a musical journey and today, at 55, it is far from over. During this journey, the boy became an adult and in the process he has carved out a special niche for himself in the field of the sitar. Tonnes of paper have been used to praise him and his unique style of playing the sitar with unconventional treatment of raga. We are talking about Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, considered Indian classical music personified and a synonym for the sitar. A leading exponent of the Etawah gharana, which produced legends like Imdad Khan, Enayat Khan and Vilayat Khan, Shahid Parvez is known for his virtuoso rendition. Belonging to the seventh generation of an unbroken lineage of instrumentalists, the ustad was trained by his father, Ustad Aziz Khan. In turn, he too teaches a number of disciples. Excerpts from an email interview with the Pune-based maestro:

What is your take on the current fad of fusion of Indian classical music with popular music?

The fusion what I hear today, is more of a confusion. I am not against any experiment but one has to be clear in one's mind that you cannot increase the number of listeners with such experiments but, yes, positively you can lose them very fast. I am open to any such experiments which result in something new and better.

What do you think of the Increasing numbers of youth from foreign countries lands who come to India to learn the sitar, but we don't find them performing none as performer. What could be the reason?

You have to understand they are not Indians. They do not have the same level of emotions or have the sanskaar to understand the character of raga. Neither do they have the time or tenacity for riyaaz. Indian classical music is not purely technical, it is more of emotion.

On child prodigy, as he himself once was known as

You were known as a child prodigy. But the term has become extremely common today.

Each one has a special talent. It could be of sur, tala or understanding instruments. But most important is the temperament. Unless you get proper taalim from your guru and have the temperament to nurture all the talents, you will never succeed. And this is how we lose many such child prodigies. If you want to learn it, learn properly. I do not believe it is possible to learn or teach Indian classical music unless the guru-shishya tradition is followed. The shishya must immerse him/herself in the guru's company and watch every action of the guru while he/she is teaching or performing.

Should Indian classical music be within the frame of tala (rhythm)? This is a question which is being asked since the last two decades. On asking his opinion,

Why not! First they should clarify without laya, sur and tala, what is there in our music?

How important is gharana?

Gharana is like my father. If someone avoids identifying it, it is up to him or her. But I feel proud to say which gharana I belong to, just the way I feel proud to say who is my father.

There is popular belief that Islam treats music with contempt.

I have a different opinion. If that was the case, then why do they give the Azaan before each prayer, in such beautiful sur? It is only a notion of a few ignorant people. Sufi and dervishes have used music as medium to connect with Allah for centuries. Music is the door to spirituality. It is the best possible way to embrace spirituality.

Can you name a raga with which you identify yourself, your temperament, your character?

I am, myself orthodox in nature. And, yes, I identify myself with raga Yaman, Darbari, Malkauns, Marwa, Todi and Sri. Perhaps, this is why I play these ragas more.

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Printable version | Oct 12, 2021 11:11:42 PM |

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