Rooted in classical, branching in experimental

Even as twin brothers Murad Ali Khan (sarangi) and Fateh Ali Khan (sitar) represent the illustrious Muradabad Gharana, it does not really stop them from experimenting — be it with their two bands — ‘Soul Samvad’, in which they fuse Indian classical with western or ‘Essence’, which is about classical music, dance (Kathak) & storytelling. Well, Fateh also performed with Lady Gaga when she was in India.

“Of course there is a certain pressure when one belongs to a family where the ancestors have been such important names in the field of sarangi. I understand that the responsibility of living up to their names & reputation, but that has never stopped me from trying out anything novel. I have always believed that if my taleem is strong, I will do justice to music in every form. Also, learning never stops, and it is this idea that ascertains that one keeps growing as a musician,” said Murad.

The brothers started out with training in vocals from their grandfather Ustad Siddiqui Ahmed Khan which continued till Murad chose to continue the family’s lineage of sarangi, while Fateh opted to learn the sitar .

With many experts pointing out that Murad has been instrumental in pushing the sarangi forward and making it more popular, the musician said that he feels blessed that he has been able to do that. “Belonging to the sixth generation of sarangi players in my family, I will continue on that path through performing and teaching. I take it as a blessing from my family who have devoted their lives making this instrument popular.”

The brothers, who recently performed during the ‘HCL Digital Concerts’ say that though every artist is missing the magic of live performances, such online concerts are a breath of fresh air during the times of this pandemic.

Ask Fateh if the brothers ever encounter artistic differences while performing together, and he asserted, “No, it is always a delight to perform with Murad. There is a consistent exchange of knowledge between us. We both are blessed to be getting so much appreciation and blessings from our audience which we cherish every time.”

Stressing that performing with Lady Gaga was an unforgettable moment for him, Fateh added, “I have always believed that an artist should be open to receiving and delivering every kind of music. Of course, without forgetting the roots — and for me that is Indian classical music.”

The duo, who are also associated with the Hindi film industry, recalling their association with composer Shantanu Moitra said that it has always been a fulfilling experience. “With Shantanu, there have never been strict boundaries, a scenario every artist dreams of. I always have the freedom to improvise. Recently, I played in ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ on Shantanu’s music,” said Murad.