Amaan and Ayaan Ali khan duo have emerged out of their celebrated father Amjad Ali Khan’s shadow and are creating a niche for themselves. Today, they pursue individual careers along with collaborating together and with varied artists and perform across the globe.
Ayaan and Amaan
Even though they have learnt music quite young in life, Amaan the eldest of the brothers says that it should be a natural learning process and not imposed on children.
I am a musician’s son and initially I did not want to play music because my father used to talk to me about music 24x7. The day he stopped, I realised why and started learning music. There are a even youngsters who listen to us. If music is pure people will follow.”
Many classical musicians garner popularity in the West than in India. Throwing light on this Amaan says, “It is mixed response both here and there. Indian culture is in vogue internationally and people are following Indian culture.
Classical music has never been for the masses, I am not creating a hierarchy here but that is the fact. Classical music is an education. The western world is far ahead of us. They create Airbuses and Boeings and I am sorry to say that we did not make a glider properly till date.
Education wise they are far ahead and they understand the concept of classic things. It will surely come in India as education has started now and after 20-25 years a majority of people will listen to classical music.”
Advocates of collaborative music that they are, it is interesting to hear Amaan share the differences, “We have surs like ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni Sa’ and they have ‘Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti’; both have some common notes and we make a base of that notes and improvise on it.
Improvisation describes a musician not the technique but the imagination that how he/she does it. They (western musicians) read and perform and we learn from our gurus keep that in mind and perform. And it is very hard to read and perform if you give me a piece of paper of notes and ask me to perform my hand will not even move.”
The brothers apart from playing scintillating music have also donned the role of writers and have co-authored the book ‘Abba: God's Greatest Gift To Us’. How did that happen? “Roli Books approached us as they were doing a series of ‘Father-Son’ or ‘Father-Daughter’.
The world knows Amjad Ali Khan as a person, which they perceived from interviews, news stories, etc, but as sons, we penned what are the things we like about our father. It was an honest book; people got to know many unknown facets.
We wrote how much we love him and things that hurt us about him. It was difficult to write as we were writing about a legend.” Ayaan, the younger one says that the siblings do have differences; however, they discuss and come to a meeting point.
“We did not plan our careers. Our dad is a legend and he is very old school when we started learning. Before we actually started performing he would make us sit on the stage and that’s how we grew up. We started playing individually and collaborations happened later.
Even today, we pursue individual careers. If somebody invites only one of us we go and perform solo. Obviously, differences happen and we have discussions. We both are in search of excellence and eventually, we come to an understanding.
If he makes sense, I agree and vice versa. We plan projects in such a manner that we both have creative independence and that’s how it works when you have to collectively want to achieve perfection. You have to have an understanding and take opinion and suggestion from each other,” Ayaan says.
Speaking about their relationship with their father Ayaan shares: “We are fortunate to be born in a home, where the language we speak and the air we breath is music. It was our way of life. When we were much younger it was little confusing – the relationship.
Because when you are an eight-year-old child and when your father walks in and all the students were getting up out of respect and you are sitting down feeling that it is just your father. Then realisation comes internally.
Our gurus don’t impose that we should respect them and stand, some do maybe, I guess, but our father did not do that. Today the relationship is of course of father and son but it is more of a guru-student because as you grow older every relationship takes a serious turn and your responsibilities increase but again it is an effortless change.
We have a beautiful balance now.” About career in classical music Amaan says, “For us, a Friday does not make us or break us. It is a long journey. My father says that he is, still learning. The walk is like elephants walk, it is with dignity and grace. It is not a rat race.”
How is the music maestro Amjad Ali Khan as a guru? “He was very patient with us. I have twins today, 4-year-old sons; I can completely understand what my father must have been going through because we were the youngest students he ever had. And to deal with child’s psychology and to teach children and to get them into an art form is difficult.
He was extremely conscious of it. The way he introduced music to us was very interesting. It was through songs, school rhymes, and stuff like that and it is very important to connect with the child’s temperament so that a child can learn.”
The brothers hosted the TV show ‘Sa re ga ma pa’ many moons ago and speaking about making a comeback on the small screen Ayaan shares, “There are so many proposals but when we did television, the TV boom did not happen. It was just a talent hunt show.
It was different. We did four seasons and it was memorable for us. All these years’ proposals came but we did not like them. I was approached to host some tacky reality show, which will make no sense if I host it. If something related to music comes up we are definitely open to it.”