The sitar, tabla and flute played on. And the youngsters in the crowd heard the classical ensemble in awe. Sitar maestro Shujaat Khan says it’s surprising and heartening to witness the swelling number of youths — contrary to popular perception — at classical concerts.
“If you go to classical concerts across India, you will be surprised to see the number of people under 25 who are going and listening to them. It’s unbelievable.
“Around 40 per cent people (at concerts) are under 25, and it’s a wonderful thing that they are realising that there’s something more to life than just a three to four minute song, which is also okay to listen to,” Khan told IANS here.
The celebrated musician is the son and disciple of sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan, and he belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana of the stringed instrument.
He was here to perform at the MTV India Music Summit, where a group of school and college students sat with rapt attention and appreciated the expertise, finesse and dedication of the artistes. Khan also sang.
“I’d like to reiterate what Prasoon Joshi says. Music can’t always be heard from the feet — it can’t always be for dance. It’s a good thing that they realise that you can even sit and listen to music, and enjoy it,” said Khan.
But why do most people often undermine the ability of youngsters to understand and appreciate the complexity of classical music?
“Because that’s what the job of the majority is. In the world, the majority will always go to something that’s easy, easily accessible and easily doable.
“If you go and play music on the stage for two hours, and vis-a-vis that, you do a three-minute performance, there will be a difference, right?
“So, whatever is easy for you as a listener, you’re accepting that. It’s upto you.”
He is all for more such platforms where artistes can congregrate and celebrate India’s glorious wealth of classical music.
“The more, the merrier. People are thinking about it. Gradually, literary festivals have started happening in different parts of the country.
“Music fests will also happen slowly and steadily as people will understand the need to get together and promote the cause of music,” Khan said, agreeing that the market has opened up in a big way for interanational artistes to come and perform.
Khan’s musical career began at the age of three when he began practicing on a specially-made small sitar. By the age of six, he was recognised and began giving public performances.
His album “Rain” was also nominated for the Grammy Awards.
Back in 2010, Khan had even composed for a Hindi movie titled “Mr. Singh/ Mrs. Mehta”. But now he is in no mood for film collaborations.
“I have no interest. I enjoy the more serious, longer format. I prefer that. Also, when someone offers you a film, with that, comes another offer — this is what we want you to do. So, I am not interested.”