January 2003




JANUARY  2003 Contents


 Peace in South Asia
 - Is it attainable?
 Read what they have 
 to say:


 Swami Agnivesh &
 Rev Valson Thampu

 Ardeshir Cowasjee

 Lt. Gen Arjun Ray 

 Raju Narisetti

 Waheguru Pal Singh 



 Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
 - 50 years of sarod


 Secular symbols of
 Sri Lanka

 2002 Round-up

 Books 2002

 Sports 2002


 Raju Nasiretti

 Mahreen Khan

Real Issues

 Corruption vs. NGOs


 Letter from Pakistan


 'India in Slow Motion'
 - by Mark Tully

 Serialisation of  'Knock at every alien 
 door' - Joseph Harris



 South Asian Events in
 London &  Washington DC

 Editor's Note

 the craft shop

 Lehngas - a limited collection

 the print gallery


 Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in










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Page  2  of  2

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

- celebrates half a century of sarod playing



Rajdeep Datta

amjad ali khan&wife.jpg (71562 bytes)

On foreign grounds, Khan is one of the most frequently recorded Indian musicians. His concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Centre, House of Commons, Santury Hall in Japan and St. James Palace have always been sold-out.

He now owns a record label called the Bangash Music. " There are many unrecorded compositions of mine which are not commercially viable for record companies. So I decided to form my own company," he says. But this is not just for the promotion of his music. "We will also be releasing albums by other classical maestros," he is quick to add.

" But a musician has to go beyond. A good musician is essentially a good human," he says. Which is why he has always involved himself with charitable societies such as Spastics Societies, The Cancer Society, The Blind Relief Fund, UNICEF and more.

Not surprisingly, he is a much honoured and awarded man: A Sarod Samrat at 15, Ustad at 25, Unesco awardee at 26, Padmashree at 30 and Kala Ratna at 32. The Padma Bhushan at 46, Unicef's National Ambassadorship at 51, the coveted Crystal Award by World Economic Forum at 52, Honorary Doctorate, University of York at 53 as also Honorary Citizenships of Nashville and Houston in the US.

In all this, his family, he says, has devotedly stood by him. His Assamese wife Subhalakshmi has been a great exponent of Bharatnatyam, who gave up her career to let her husband pursue his course. ``He is a useless husband but a wonderful human being,'' she jokes.

Funds for sarod have always been forthcoming. In 1996 Amjad Ali Khan converted his nearly 300 years old ancestral house (also his birth place) into a museum of music which is known as Sarod Ghar in Gwalior, to preserve the ancient Indian classical musical instruments. Besides his ancestors’ instruments to the museum he has alsocollected ancient instruments of other great masters of the country.

Certainly, in the past 50 years he has achieved what few sarod players have. He says:" We are not sportspersons who keep a tab on the score. We have no competition where we win or loose. I wanted to create music with my sarod. I have achieved that." And of course, in the process he has made the world audience sit up and listen.

"Once we had only royal patrons, now we have the whole world patronising us," he says. In the same breath he adds that, a university degree does not qualify you to be a great master of music.

" The dedication of the present breed of musicians is less and consequently, the quality of music is suffering," he says. Khan himself has evolved as a musician. He has been experimenting with various musicians.

" Since last year I have been composing symphonies for the Hong Kong philharmonic orchestra. I have also composed 40 ghazals which were penned by Gulzar. Some of these were recorded by HMV (Vaada). Moreover, he will be performing a jugalbandi with a cello player of the London Philharmonic orchestra.

While a section of the audiences feel that fusion is just about loud noise, thanks to the overplay of percussion, his music is melody-oriented. Earlier, he used to play alone.

" Now I have my sons to accompany me and that's a wonderful experience. We divide our concerts into three parts, in the first I play solo, then Amaan and Ayaan do jugalbandi, later three of us play together."

He also replies to the critics who accuse him of seeking publicity and promoting only his sons when there are many talented sarod players in the country. " Unfortunately, most art critics are failed artists. I let my audience decide," he says.

Make him talk of the shabda as the atma, the swara as ishwar and he goes into a discourse. " There is no appropriate translation of the word 'music' in Hindi," he says and adds, " music is much more than sangeet. In Persian, music is mausiqui, it is conversation, recitation, chanting, singing, rhythm , the best of everything put together....." He could go on and on….

There is an air of mystery about the ustad and his 50-year-old love affair with the sarod. At 57, he looks supremely elegant in his flowing kurtas that have become more flamboyant and chic over the years.






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