Famous Musicians of India

Amjad Ali Khan : The one who understands sarod

Each instrument is different just as each individual person is different. There are different ways of behaving with different kinds of persons according to their nature and their structure. Same thing holds true for the instruments also.

To be more precise about this, each instrument is like a person. Each instrument has different domain, different nature and different flavor. It happens that many artists do not understand the domain of their instrument and in mere effort of copying some another artist, loose this attachment with the soul of their instruments.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, I would dare to say, has clearly understood his instrument, Sarod. Many Sarod players though play their instrument very skillfully, have somewhere failed to understand the nature and fabric of their instrument. I have heard Amjad Ali Khan a lot and have attended many of his concert. Amjad Ali Khan has never stretched Sarod beyond its limit. He has never troubled his instrument to show his skills on his instrument.

Sarod is a very gentle instrument with glides and many other delicate playing features. Not many Sarod players understand and realize this fact and in order demonstrate how skillful they are, they go on playing Sarod against its nature.

India has many great Sarod players, but Amjad Ali Khan has special place in my heart because he has done the difficult task of understanding his instrument, respecting its nature and give listeners sheer joy.

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Amjad Ali Khan or Mukul Shivputra

You have to make compromises in life. I do not like to choose things. But most of the times, you have to choose. Pune is a hub of musicians and performers. Performers love to play in Pune. Many times, it happens that two concerts get arranged on same day, at a same time. Then, fans have to choose and nothing else.

Amjad Ali Khan

Pune had two artists performing at the same time on same day. So, I had to choose.  One of combination was Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain who were going to perform at Ganesh kala Krida Manch. On the other hand a very rarely performing and gifted artist, Mukul Shivputra was going to deliver a concert at Garware College Assembly Hall.

This really confused me. I had attended twice concert by Pt. Mukul Shivputra but he did not sing either of the times. So, I had returned without listening anything. Concert of Mukul Shivputra is like a gamble; you go there keeping aside all your works, setting aside everything, getting way through high traffic. You hardly get a chance to get a front sit. Then, when you get seated, you expect something wonderful from Mukul. Mukul comes, sings for a while, shouts on his accompanists and leaves.

Mukul Shivputra

On the other hand, Amjad Ali khan plays same Ragas. I heard him thrice or more in Pune. He plays wonderful but he plays the same. But yes, he at least plays and that too marvelously. And yes, this time he had Zakir Hussain with him.

I attended obviously Amjad Ali Khan and Zakir Hussain. Yes, the same Ragas played very beautifully and Zakir not getting much scope to play. I enjoyed the concert. But, when I came back, from somewhere I came to know that Mukul Shivputra had sang two ragas. It was a shock for me. I opened him on You Tube and listened to some of his tracks.

I know, a choice cannot be done between Amjad Ali Khan and Mukul Shivputra, but still I know, I missed something. I missed something very rare and very precious.

Now I am again waiting. Some day, Mukul Shivputra will come again and will sing something. I am waiting for the day.

Read more about Mukul Shivputra

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Jingle Bells and Amjad Ali Khan

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan had been invited to USA for delivering a performance. He was requested to perform Jingle Bells. And he performed it nicely. But it attracted a number of critics and Ustadji was blamed a lot. So, I consider it my duty to throw some light on the quality of performance.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

The first thing is that, he was condemned so much because it was not a traditional classical composition. If we analyze the tune of Jingle Bells, it fits very well in Raag Khamaj in Hindustani classical music. In instrumental music, words play no role. So, why this composition was not accepted as a composition in Khamaj Raag? I think critics somewhere consider other types of music substandard and that’s why they are hurt so much when a Hindustani classical artist plays a Western Tune. And I can point out thousands of tunes having same notes being played by many other renowned artists.

The second thing is that, many critics many times say that Ustad Amjad Ali Khan lacks deapth in his music. I totally disagree. This is basic mistake committed by humans. We associate simplicity with less quality. I would like to highlight that simplicity is the highest form or the highest   virtue of any art. If we judge Amjad Ali Khan on these criteria of simplicity, I think probably no other musician will reach the heights which Amjad Ji has seen. His music is very deep. But it just flows simply..and that’s why people misunderstand it as substandard or as deficient in depth.

It hurts when people call him a second rate artist. It hurts when people doubt his dedication. When his Sarod was broken, he was broken with it and this shows his dedication, his love for his art. His wife brought his spare sarod herself next day. It was not difficult to send the Sarod by courier by any other agency; but his wife comes. This shows the love and intimacy of Khan Couple towards the art.

I will request the so called learned condemners of Amjad Ali Khan that please have a look at him when he is holding his Sarod in his hand. Observe the care, the love and also the depth. It Is rare to find artist who is so much absorbed and who is so much in unison with his instrument.