Even as they are working on two international and one Bollywood project, and are in talks for the background score for two films, musicians Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash stress that their focus will always be on the sarod and Indian classical music.
Sons of sarod maestro, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the duo, who recently partnered with ‘Icons of India by The Leela’ stress that despite growing up in a household steeped in music, it was their own decision to take up the instrument. While Amaan recalls that it was a mix of pleasure and passion, and the moment they connected with it, there was no looking back, Ayaan adds, “Considering the atmosphere at home, we started quite early, but I was very clear that this is what I want to do. Also, the realization of wanting to do something has to be from within and cannot be imposed upon you.”
But being sons of the ustad does come with certain expectations and pressures… Aman is clear that if he was not Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s son, it would have taken him 20 years more to achieve what he has. “There have been great opportunities, but at the same time, you must perform even better than the rest as you are expected to be as good or on similar lines. Very early on, I made it clear in my mind, I will never be a reason of embarrassment to my father.”
Ayaan adds that it has been a good pressure, as at the end of the day they are expected to deliver better than anyone else. “I like the pressure, but I don’t know if I have lived up to it and both of us have never taken any given opportunity for granted.”
Even as an increasing number of young Indian classical musicians are collaborating with different genres across cultures, Amaan feels that it is important to multifaceted in contemporary times and be open to all artforms and respect them. “It is about being honest to your art form. I will not tweak or cheat on my raga but will fuse my music with the other art form,” he says.
Ayan questions – who decides what is pure and what is impure? “Frankly, Indian classical music is an oral tradition and there is no rule book that ever mentioned how classical music should be presented. Fusion is an overused word; I would like to call it a collaboration or experimenting with other genres of music and that is extremely challenging.”
Pleased that a number of corporates and private foundations are coming forward to support the arts, the duo, who consider the sarod an extension of themselves, stress that the art world has always needed connoisseurs and patrons. “Major corporates are now encouraging music and yes, they are selective about who they want to push. But those who do not get patronage tend to get negative about it. What is important is that they introspect and up their game,” says Amaan.
Talking about ‘Icons of India by The Leela’, Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts says that is an initiative aimed at recognizing and nurturing the essence of India and the richness within through a celebration of India’s finest who are the world’s best. “Through this initiative, The Leela aims to create meaningful experiences that inspire guests and allow them to connect through a shared passion,” he concludes.