Trained by their father, Ustad Afzal Hussain — a ghazal and thumri singer, Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain emerged as child artists in 1959. Trained in the Jaipur Gharana and deeply connected with the music industry, they sang Aaya Tere Dar Par Deewana in the Bollywood film Veer-Zaara in 2014. They launched several albums including Re-Man, Sarmaya and Zindagi. Performing for more than 55 years now, the duo is coming to the city to pay tribute to the late Pt Vasantrao Deshpande at the three-day Vasantotsav 2020 to be held in the city from January 17-19.
The music festival is being organised by Sakal Media Group in association with Vasantrao Deshpande Pratishthan. The event is being presented by P N Gadgil & Sons and powered by Ravetkar Group. The associate sponsors are Buldana Urban Co-Operative Credit Society and Charvi Sarees, and travel partners Girikand Holidays and Mehfil Catering Services is the food partner.
Prior to their performance, Sakal Times catches up with the duo.
What kind of response are you expecting from Punekars at Vasantotsav 2020?
Mohammed: First of all, warm regards to Punekars and congratulations to Sakal. We are extremely blessed that we are coming to Pune to pay tribute to Pt Vasantrao Deshpande. Pune is a city of art and artists, hence, Punekars are more musically inclined and understand music. It is wonderful to perform in front of such an intellectual crowd. We are expecting an audience which enjoys ghazals and give us their blessings.
Today’s generation is mostly into western/ electronic music. Where does ghazal fit in today’s music?
Ahmed: It’s not the fault of today’s generation. Artists, organisers, mentors, commercial organisations and the media — all of them are responsible for the current scenario in the music industry . We expect our kids to be well educated and enroll them in English medium schools. However, one should never forget their roots. If we do not introduce our kids to classical music and do not read mythological books to them, how can we blame them? I don’t say that any particular genre of music is bad. Music that doesn’t touch your soul is bad. We appreciate the music that people make today, but we believe that true music should be something that leaves an impact on your heart and mind.
Nowadays, music is mostly about remixes and remakes. Do you think today’s music lacks originality?
Ahmed: Absolutely. The kind of music people used to compose, sing and write back in the day was fabulous. We should not pick the best songs and ruin their authenticity. Instead, we should come up with something new. Nowadays, people use ‘lack of time’ as an excuse. The artists come at different times, perform or dub their part and leave. When the artists haven’t interacted and discussed the song even once, how will they get the feel of it? Hence, the output will have no emotions. Bollywood is a wonderful place. However, they are not willing to rectify the loopholes. The reason is that people earlier used to work; nowadays, they get the work done.
Can you tell us the right audience for ghazals?
Ahmed: Ghazal has many Urdu words, however, it is not important to read and write Urdu to understand ghazals. If you have lived in an Urdu environment, it is enough to understand ghazals.
With time and technology, there has been the introduction of many new platforms like YouTube, Coke Studio, reality shows etc. As an artist, have you moved with time?
Ahmed: These platforms are extremely nice to present your skills. However, nowadays, the focus is more on TRP and less on music.
Mohammed: I’ll fail my child if s/he does not perform well on stage. But there again, you have to select the child. When we were getting trained, our father asked our mother to not send us as her sons, but as a student to the gurukul. However, nowadays reality shows are ruining childhood and talents. Earlier, unless you were appreciated by your guru, you were not considered as the best artist. The situation today is — ‘Nakhun se khodate hain chattano mein kunwa, aur umeed yeh karte hai ki pani nikle’, means people work very less and expect to reap big benefits. In the yesteryears, artists were dedicated. S D Burman da composed Mose Chhal Kiye Jaye and Kya Se Kya Ho Gaya. Remarkable talent. All this does not happen unless you train under a guru.
With the help of technology, singers with average talent succeed nowadays. Do you think that real talent doesn’t find a platform?
Mohammed: Even if you try to push over talented people, they will shine. But as an artist you must learn basic music first. We are against fake appreciation and fake artists.
Right now, there is anti-minority sentiment across the country. As artists, do you feel vulnerable?
Ahmed: As artists, we do not get time to think about these situations. That said, anti-minority sentiments can affect only those who are scared of something. I am an Indian and will remain an Indian. We do not feel threatened.
ST Reader Service
Ghazal singers Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain will perform on January 17, at Vasantotsav 2020, Pandit Farms, Karvenagar. The programme starts 5 pm on all three days, January 17, 18 and 19.