Legendary artistes tune in for cross-border musical triad in Dubai

Top artists from India and Pakistan to perform on Friday in a special post-Eid extravaganza

We reckon it's never too late to celebrate Eid, especially when the revelry includes top-notch musicians from the Asian sub continent.

So don't hesitate and head this Friday to the Madinat Jumeirah Arena for Eid-E-Milan, a concert featuring Pakistan's Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, along with Indian singer Shaan and music composer Aadesh Shrivastava.

Organised by Cyclops Events, the Platinum tickets are not for the faint-hearted, costing Dh1,500 and inclusive of dinner, those still recovering from the recession blues can opt for the regular ones that are priced at just Dh200.

Sufi goes mainstream

Khan, who is the nephew of legendary Sufi singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is no newcomer to Dubai. With a concert appearance annually in the last three years alone, the younger Khan's fan following has only grown since his meteoric rise in the Indian film industry.

The 36-year-old, who comes from a 200-year-old lineage of qawwali singers, started his music training at the age of seven.

In an interview with SAWF.com, Khan talked about the early days with his uncle, saying: "Mr Khan initiated me into it when I was seven years old.

On that day, I remember Mr Khan was rehearsing; I listened to him with a child's curiosity and wondered what was happening.

I went inside the music room and sat next to him and he told me to start singing so I started singing."

Soon after he was performing on stage with his country's most leading qawwali singers. But the artist would only come into his own after the demise of his uncle.

Khan has always maintained that qawwali music is his one true love, saying: "My future is that one day I will fulfil the desire of Nusrat to give this message of qawwali to the world."

And Khan stuck by his word over the years, and even successfully managing to take this genre of music and go mainstream with it.

It was in 2004 that Indian film actor turned director, Pooja Bhatt, decided to include "Mann Ki Lagan" in her film "Paap" and there has been no looking back since.

Khan's versatile vocals also played a large part on the soundtrack of Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto".

These days, the singer is also a celebrity judge on Star Plus' "Chhote Ustaad 2", alongside Indian singer Sonu Niigam.

Breaking the mould

Shaan is yet another musical prodigy who inherited his talent from his father, the late music director Manas Mukherjee and his grandfather, the lyricist Jahar Mukherjee.

His popularity in Bollywood has never been in question considering tuning into an Asian radio station today will probably result in Shaan's voice belting out over the airwaves.

The first time this reporter caught the 37-year-old live in concert six-odd years ago in Delhi, what struck me was his spontaneity and his ability to adapt his voice and his style to whatever the musicians threw at him.

Switching effortlessly from classical to rap to qawwali, Shaan's sincerity is evident in his passion for music. In an earlier chat with Emirates 24|7, he once said: "I'm a commercial worker who takes on every song as a challenge.

When I spend two hours on a song - be it an item number or club track - I will try my best to turn even a bad song into a good one."

Not one to mince words, the artist, who is a trained classical singer, believes that today music is not just about the talent but the whole packaging.

He said: "Having the perfect voice texture isn't going to sell you as a singer - it's the novelty value.

"Let's take Himesh Reshammiya [singer/music composer/actor] as an example. He's a wonderful person who's dedicated to his art, but he lacks the conventional voice tonality. Yet, every single song and album of his tops the charts. You can't call this a fluke but a growing trend.

"[Pakistani singer] Atif Aslam is yet another whose voice is aesthetically appalling but he's still very popular.

"It's terrible to see that singing, which had a sense of beauty once, has now turned into a harshness of expression...That's what's happening today with Indian music; we have to put with cerebral trash."

Back in the spotlight

Concurring with Shaan's sentiments is Aadesh Shrivastava, a Bollywood music composer and a singer in his own right, who has always maintained that he could never allow mainstream demands to dilute his compositions.

The duo also have another thing in common - Shrivasatva also did not hesitate in calling Atif Aslam's style of singing as "garbage" on live television.

The 44-year-old has seen many career highs and lows in Bollywood, with a career spanning over two decades.

These days, the high has returned through "Mora Piya", a classical composition from director Prakash Jha's "Rajneeti", which has thrown the artist back into the limelight after years of misses on the music charts.

The fact that he has crooned the track himself has only showcased his versatility in an industry that is always looking to launch the next big thing - a race that has seen Shrivastava lagging behind his contemporaries.

In a recent interview with the newspaper, "DNA India", he was quoted as saying: "I never believed in competition, so it hardly matters to me. I have been busy overseas with collaborations and private albums and I have not regrets. I am happy in my space."

The artist, who has already been signed on for Jha's next film and claims there are several other films in the pipeline, remains adamant that he does not create music just to generate a quick buck - especially the recent trend to impose English lyrics into a track to garner popularity with the passes.

In the same interview he said: "I don't understand why you have to create English songs for Hindi films. If you have films like "Rang De Basanti" or "Rajneeti" where you have an English character, an English track can be justified. Music nowadays is more like bubbles on water.

"Even soundtrack like Raavan is not standing out. Music should be something that touches your soul. You can't make music out of noise and arrangements."

The trio, along with host Saumya Tandon, will perform live on Friday at Madinat Jumeriah, with tickets ranging between Dh200 and Dh1,500.

For more information, call: 04 446 4801


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