Father never praised or criticised: Sarod players Amaan, Ayaan

New Delhi: Indian sarod players Ayaan Ali and Amaan Ali Bangash, sons of the legendary sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, have made their own niche in the classical music world. They say their father always taught them to realise their own mistakes, never criticising or praising them for their performances. As a trio, Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons have performed across the world, regaling audiences galore of classical music lovers. "He never forced us into music. However, he told us that what was expected out of him. The standards were set. This even implied in our case. In other words, it was understood what we had to do. We could also see his expectations," Ayaan told IANS in an email interview. "He has never praised us or criticised us after any of our solos or duets. The only thing he mentioned was that hear the recording and 'you know how much and what you have to work on or you are in the right track," he added. Adding that this tactic worked well for them, Ayaan -- the younger of the two brothers -- shared that their father's idea wasn't to demoralise a disciple. "Not many can handle it. But this worked. We heard ourselves over and over again and went 'ekes' to our old concerts. The freedom was given to hear all my father's and grandfather's contemporaries. "The idea was to make us take the best from all and their interpretation of each Raga," Ayaan said. Amaan reminisced how their father, the son of the Gwalior court musician Hafiz Ali Khan, would make them spend time with him to teach them how to interact with the audience from different walks of life. "Abba Saheb (Amjad Ali Khan) made sure that we observed the way he taught his students. This way, we got a clear picture of the age-old guru-shishya (teacher-disciple) tradition. This even made us realise that he is much more than just a father. His canvas was really large," Amaan said. "Today, he is more of a guru to us. This, over the years, his music has made us realise. Being sarod players today ourselves, we realise what he is. That a man of his musical stature and genius is born only once in a thousand years," he added. Another factor that went into their learning was not being discouraged from listening to western or Bollywood music. "When we were growing up, our father would always be very happy to see us listen to music, not just practice it. Not just his own music, but the music of an entire range of artistes from the era of our grandfather to the contemporaries of our father," Amaan shared. "We were never asked to listen to a particular artiste, or not to listen to another; to listen only to classical music and not to listen to the music of the West or Bollywood. The choice and the freedom was entirely ours. But it is only natural to be influenced by the music that your guru speaks of or refers to when he plays. "We thus became engrossed in the world of Indian classical music that our father had grown up with, along with our own contemporary choices," he added. As musicians, the artistes shared that the art is a blessing and when on stage, "you are in a creative frenzy". "To be a musician is in itself a blessing as you are really not answerable to anyone but yourself. For those few hours when you are on stage, you are in a creative frenzy, sometimes supernaturally unreal. "There are times when you get off stage only to realise that something special happened up there on stage that day," Ayaan said. The brothers have collaborated with music label Saregama for Saregama Classical Studio. Their father is a part of the initiative as well. Saregama Classical Studio, which was launched last month has legends of Indian classical music come together in a video series putting forth India's cultural strength on a global stage through their Saregama classical mobile application. The Classical Studio has artistes like Pandit Jasraj, Ajay Prasanna, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Bickram Ghosh among others performing at mesmerising locations across India such as Humayun's Tomb, Purana Qila, Mehrangarh Fort, Hawa Mahal and Panch Rathas.