Ustad Zakir Hussain at Kolkata Literary Meet 2018



start zakir husain though he where I interviewed him a long time ago he said he didn't like being called a stud he does not consider himself and his dad but I'm sure we all do was that Zakir Hussain with Bikram gosh Nasreen mo nica bead and Shantanu Roy Chowdhury [Applause] before the session we will do a quick ceremony of unveiling the book that brings us all here today [Laughter] [Applause] [Applause] such other bonuses that make life worth living [Laughter] [Applause] launch the book everything [Applause] laughter totally messing with our minds Zach ug even have a straightforward conversation no too much to expect over to the panelists I'll just say a brief few words in introduction when you have two legions of music in a panel with a with one of the finest authors you have two legends and an author you get an editor free so sir so we it's it's one of those fascinating books that an editor waits for all his life and is willing to give his life for and nesrin thank you for bringing it to us and Zach it's a saga by how grateful I am that you chose to publish with us it's it's been a wonderful journey going through this book working on this book I just Vikram will do the moderating I'll just start off with one question for nesrin and that is nesrin your books previously have been primarily to do with Bollywood and in the film music and Hindi film music and people like Lata Mangeshkar and ar-rahman and Gulzar's are this has been a different journey you say that you are not a musicologist and you had no idea of the world of classical music as exactly why sort of exemplifies so what was it that drew you to him to do the book and what was the process like and then Vikram can take it over I think we're going to talk about it at length but I will say Shantanu after a while when you're working in one area you stop learning new things and you don't grow if you don't learn and so therefore the idea of learning about the world of classical music was very important that said people who I've had the privilege of working with like the Gio Gonzalez Abu Dhabi's Sava Hodari man these are all wonderful people in their own right so you never disrespect anybody's profession especially if they are indeed professional and the idea of working with Zakir was a big privilege because it was opening new doors and for that I was very excited the idea that I would learn something new because if you know it all then I don't think you can get out of bed in the morning so that's really it and I hope and I'm very happy to be here it's such a privilege to be here I've been here when we were driving along Zakia asked oh do you know the film how a bridge it was shot here and we were thinking of those wonderful songs in the film and then do Bigha Zameen and so on and to be in such a historical place with people who love books you can see it on your faces that you all are readings so I'd let Bikram take over I think thank you Namaskar first and foremost whether he likes it or not in our Indian classical music world there is this huge figure of the Guru and for me he is guru saman and he is an ID my idol my icon so if he allows which I know exactly what he's going to do but I need to do this well okay now my first question is directed to Nasreen G there are several documentaries as well as many interviews of a star's ocular scent available for viewing on the internet what do you think a book would add which these interviews wouldn't thank you for that question I still think that there is nothing like a book and I think that you have the minute you have a book you give people something to take away to keep on their shelf to keep forever it will travel to all corners of the world being libraries being the hands and in front of the eyes of people of all kinds of cultures and no matter what we say about the internet and how many millions and millions of people watching nobody quotes from the internet if you are researching about music you're not going to check the interviews of Zakir Hussain on YouTube you're going to see if there's anything written because somehow the idea that something is written makes it more real because there has been more thought and time behind it and that's why I think become a book there is nothing to compete with a book and that is why we are who we are because we have learned how to read and to write so if you take that away sort of brings brings all of that scattered information around there in one place you know if I may add something to that what a book has always done for me is that see if I watch something audio-visual then it engages my primary senses and a book leaves out the visual so I can use my imagination to actually supplement what I'm reading and that I think gives you a vision into something very deep so I was just reading the book yesterday I have mala just gave it to me a day back that's meant for mala but it already gives me so much more of a sense of you know who he is and I've known him all my life I would like to I I want to read out the last passage from the book before asking this question because I think it really is very important what was that she says Here I am one of those musicians who came at the cusp of a great change in the music world and I was carried on that wave I had the good fortune of establishing a very unhurried relationship with music and at the same time the wave took places it took me places otherwise I would have to run to keep up I was already sitting on the bus before it drove off so that is has been him all along and my question would be a stodgy it has always seemed to me that you have worn your success incredibly light very different from almost any celebrity one meets there we go that's what I mean is there a philosophy at work here you say in the book quite incredibly that you just got onto the bus and it carried you along to me that kind of undermines your immense contribution and personal effort is the philosophy something on the lines that you are a conduit not a driver in the scheme of things well if you're just talking about me first of all welcome everyone and a very happy new year and in advance a very happy Republic Day and very what should I say a very very blessed Saraswati puja wishes Saraswathi yeah kunde Hindu to sharra Hara hvala Yash wait the Padmasana the Avene am were done demand a Takara yeah Brahma Achutha Shankara probity Verde way saddam and Adah Sharma path Saraswathi bhagavati initiation aha so this is Saraswathi but we speak of Saraswathi we think about her as one of the primary characters that we relate to when it comes to our lives and living our lives but do we think of her or any other gods or goddesses as something out of us away from us they're just part of us they're inside of us so they are us in that sense who are they they are just a normal part of our lives so for me my my journey is just a normal journey I'm not doing anything extraordinary this is not so this is not a significant achievement this is just me sharing not my life or my experiences but just me being on me being a fly on the wall in a room full of some of the greatest legends that walked the path of music and so I cannot claim to be somebody who has had an immense impact on this artform and for me it's a normal thing it's an everyday routine from the very childhood it was never pushed upon me that I have to be you know taking a shower burning the incense and saying my prayers and and then sitting down to practice because you know I'm sitting in front of an altar it was never that it was always do it when you wanting play what you want to hang out with it just let it naturally become your friend so I've always felt music and art form is a friend it's somebody who I can converse with hang out with relate to and not be awestruck about and and and have differences of opinion with and enjoy having you know big arguments with and and so that's what for me it is every day is a different learning day you cannot be a master you can only be a student that's what my father said just be a good student and you'll get by just fine there's no need to try and even attempt to be a master it'll be a vain event in vain event or something like that so I just feel that if I am to learn everyday then I'm just a student so there's nothing important about me there's nothing spotlighted about me there's nothing Marquis like about me it's just about the art form it's about being able to talk about it with become high and with you or with NASA Dean G or anybody has something just normal I mean when I went when I was studying with my father and we talked about Ganesha wanderer or Shiva's duty or like Saraswathi Vandana and so on between 3:00 and 6:00 in the morning and then I went to the madrasa and recited the Quran and then crossed the street to the Saint Michel High School church and sang the hymns and went to class so within a short period of time there were these three very distinct way of lives that were part of my my routine but none of those events or people anchoring those events ever said to me that what they were saying is the most important thing that it's the only thing that is the right thing those were different days there was something normal to be able to do that it was just natural and having brought up that way it continued into my life as a musician when my father did not impose on me the incredible disciplines of wanting to be a shisha or a student it was okay do it when you feel like it when you're happy about it it's always has to be that if your learning process becomes or playing music becomes a chore becomes getting up at 5:00 in the morning to milk the cow you don't enjoy it you're not happy about it you like oh god do I have to you're in that state of mind but if it's normal and and in an everyday life that you do it when you feel like doing it when it calls you and you hear it you go to it the joy of of that connection that plug in that interaction is something that focuses you and in such a way that every minor detail of that interaction imprints itself on your mind and it remains with you for the rest of your life it's a memory that you don't have to forcibly print on your mind it naturally happens it's it's it's watching something at it just something fascinating occurs and it becomes part of your memory and so that's what it is it's something natural so I do not feel that I have achieved anything important the best is yet to come I hope and there's never going to be anything called perfection it's just the journey it's just the ride enjoy it have fun with it enjoy the sights and you know come to wherever it is going to lead you with with an awareness that when you do close your eyes you're happy that you've done it the best you could so if I were to interpret what we just heard it said in English now yeah and I have been trying to interpret this for for all my life because he this is this is who he is and this is the way he's always been this is what he's always said I think what is what what is really important is for every every artist every individual to remember that the that if what you achieve and the ego if it grows along with the achievement then you are making yourself vulnerable to non learning and I think that's what what what star G is saying here and that no I can't do it he asked me to call him soccer is that even possible how's that possible no no I didn't I didn't I didn't I was even I wasn't even tricked into it all right so I would like to I would like to get into a space which has been kind of tricky for me for all I mean all my life and I would like to ask you one more time I have asked you this earlier in private you say in the book that the table has traditionally been known as an accompanying instrument then for all of you when you read the book you'll you'll see how how he describes beautifully how that journey pans out playing with different artists imbibing etc etc but what I'd like to dwell on for a bit is something quite different in your early days did that tag as the accompanist ever make you feel limited either artistically or from the point of view of recognition it still doesn't it doesn't matter how famous I have become more I lead a group or I play solos or whatever my primary job as a tabla player is to be an accompanist that is it that is my job so whether I play a solo one day and then sit and play with young Rahul Sharma Shiv Kumar ji son he's much junior to me but my job will be to be his subordinate to help him accompany him and play with him so so for me to be in that situation it's just something very normal it's not a stigma of any kind it's not a like you said if you take it naturally and you come to terms with your functions as they are some day you feel you know you've become famous you've got a car you've got a chauffeur and the chauffeur drives you someday you say you know I'm gonna drive the chauffeur you sit in the back it's okay it does happen and you do it it's fine so either way what does the tabla player do a tabla player sits on the steering wheel of a beautiful Rolls Royce called teen doll or rhythm cycle the musician who is accompanying with sits inside with his group of people known as Ragnar body or Malkin's or so on and everything so what did the tabla player has to do his job is to drive that car complete the journey for this man who's got this beautiful idea make sure that that Ardi idea comes to fruition drive through that road avoid all the bumps and then you know speed breakers and everything provide as smooth the journey as possible through that process of unveiling and making the raga become that experience that he or she wants and bring it to the end in that manner so that's my job to be a driver or to be a jockey down and that's very clear to me so there's no reason for me to feel in any way secondary having to do that job if I may ask that there have been occasions where I have felt and I'm sure many in the audience who have heard asaji play have felt sake have we were we've felt that in certain concerts if he were in the driving seat in spite of being the accompanying artist the concert would probably have gone better so from that Sensibility do we accept that so-and-so is the driver and I must play a secondary role in spite of the fact that the concert would probably be better if I took a more aggressive role the how does that work in your head you still require a visa from the main artist you still do I mean for instance even if you're a driver the main artist is sitting in the back he can very easily say to you why don't you come and join me in the back and let the driver drive and let's have a conversation together that's fine that's fine that's okay but it's got to come from the man who's at the helm the man who's the master of the ship or the captain of the soul or whether whatever Shakespeare said I don't know he cost Shakespeare a lot so I have to sew it sew it so in any case so that spear was directed toward me well you know I mean I've heard that you know there used to be this old Butler sort of a guy at a at some viceroys home a cook / Butler and his name was Shakespeare and he used to tell stories to his his master who penned it down and and because he didn't want to say she rewrote it he says she experienced maybe it up so but a fact is as a tabla player if I'm an accompanist or if you're an accompanist it you are subject to the whim of however good or bad or basic or extravagant is of the main artist you're subjected to that and that's your job and and it doesn't matter how famous you are how handsome you are how great your kurta looks whatever but you must you must adhere to that role that you play and that's the way I feel about it and yes it could happen at times when I could say oh if I had if I was doing this it might be more fun but know that the fact is the man has or the lady has a certain idea in his or her mind how this raga Durga must expose itself as mr. patnik was talking about Durga and anyway so how Tora will expose itself I don't have that idea I can only sort of gauge and judge and hopefully in be a psychiatrist and and figure out what that person is doing and hopefully find the way around it but most importantly I must not in any way jar his train of thought his chain of thinking if I do that by being mean that may have destroyed certain ideas that this person may have had in his mind and and then they up in eventually would have become something very beautiful you you described one of these incidents early in your career when you're playing with revision cozy and you know would you like to sort of narrate that that's very pertinent to what Vikram is asking you know like where well you know little things as that great people say you learn from and it becomes you know like a landmark happening in your life I was 16 or years old and I was on tour of the south of India with Pandit Ravi Shankar ji I was playing with him and so we played Mumbai then Hyderabad then Bangalore then coaching and then Chennai I think these were the cities so I played in Mumbai with him and you know finished playing the concert and I was feeling very good about it you know I did great and so on people clapped when I played so it must have been fabulous in the dressing room and I'm waiting for the great man to say something and he didn't and then two days later we were on a flight to Hyderabad and I was sitting with him in those days there was this plane Dakota with two punk-ass you know you got in there and you sat down and the way they moved you got sick in it but anyway I don't know how the military is used it so Dakota blade and so I'm sitting next to him and he's reading his magazine he used to read a lot he would just get all these magazines and newspaper stuff and he would read it and I'm waiting for him to say something about the concept nothing we landed next concert Hyderabad I played with him again I thought boy Zaki you're doing really good with this soul happening you know you're on a roll here so that counts it's over and I'm hoping that some words of wisdom would come along blessings or wow you were great come along nothing so next day airplanes same routine nothing happened so I took it upon myself to want to get some recognition you know so I said uncle concerts okay I mean we are doing all right I mean in a sheepish manner so he just looked at me so yeah I was okay fine and then he started reading again and then I don't know some part occurred to him so he closed his book and then he looked at me and he said sake yes I go so you and I are playing a concert together right and then I said yes so he said do you remember anything that I played do you remember looking at me do you remember me looking at you any kind of expression exchanged and I thought for a moment then I realized I did not remember anything zero shunya I had no idea what had occurred in the concert all I remembered was I was great I was fantastic you know why was that I didn't quite realize it then I couldn't so I just looked at him and I and and I did not have an answer to it so he said to me so soccer as you understand yes you are accompanying but we are having a conversation correct I said yes did you ever look at me did you ever look into my eyes and see what it is that I wanted you to do any nod any expression from me that would give you a clue as to what's coming next what should happen and I hadn't I was too busy sitting like this than sort of Ishaan Koji and I'm sitting like they said I'm playing to the audience not worried about this chap over here you know he's gonna do what he's gonna do I'm gonna do my you know stuff and and and that's what I did and and and so that's how it was and suddenly I you know a light just went on window opened up and I said you know he's right I mean I have no clue what I've done with him I have no idea what occurred in the last two concerts and I don't even know what color kurta he was wearing the night before that's how involved I was with my own world in my own stuff in my own that I just was going to display that and that was what was important I was not being an accompanist so he said let's converse look at me every now and then let's kind of connect with each other eye to eye and it was from that day on the next concert that instead of sitting facing the audience I turned sideways so that I could watch him and since then at the age of 16 now I'm 66 years old that's all I do and a lot of audiences over on this side they complain we can't see you so I every now and then go like this see I can play with my elbow up but anyway but it's important and and what it has done is it's given me an insight into the psyche of the musician that I am playing with it allows me to observe and absorb it allows me to analyze to assimilate all that information and be able to be part of the conversation another story I must tell you Hollywood an aspiring young actor his new film just came out a new film and in those days the routine was that MGM or Warner Bros or wherever the great CEOs house would be a party and after the party the film would be screened for all the all the dignitaries who were there so the film was screened and and this young actor is being congratulated by people oh well done well done Oscar material etc etc etc in the meantime there's one guy one legend just sitting on a chair in the corner not saying anything not looking or whatever just sitting there and this actor is like waiting for this legend to give him some recognition just like I was with Larry Csonka gee but nothing came about so the actor finally mustered up enough courage and walked over to the legend and said mr. Chaplin what do you think of my work in this film so mr. Chaplin looked at the sector and said son don't wait for your turn to speak learn to listen this is a very important thing that you must be a part of in the conversation you must learn to listen that is one of the problems that we are having in our world these days in every area of our social world we don't listen we must learn to listen the young actor was David Niven and the legend of course was Charlie Chaplin who made silent films silent films but even in those silent films you could see him listening to this other character and reacting to him and so that's very important when you're musicians sitting together you must interact you must converse and so my job at that point whether I'm an accompanist or a co-conspirator that will be decided by the main guy who I'm playing with and as the job dictates I once played with subtly it were concept agreed sorrowed maestro one hour after he did his a lob we played a gut a composition believe me it was one of the best concept that I was ever a part of but I never played any solo pattern at all I just played taker for one hour I played taker he just played the concept and it was the most sublime experience that I ever had not I mean I was being part of the conversation that's what was required and that's what fitted beautifully into it and that's it that's what our life is all were what we must converse we must interact and we must do whatever little or whatever most that is required of us to be able to complete the interaction of that time whatever that time is how beautifully that was spoken I think that kind of actually puts in perspective both the first and the second questions because that's where he's coming from as a human being and that's where the music goes as well and that's why it's so sublime and this for me it's it's it's of course the Italian happening right here but for all of you who are fans and so many tabla player is also there I can see who you know you know how to go about it now the next question is for Nasir Eng so you have done conversation books eighteen of them in all on people like Javed Saab Javed Akhtar G la da GE goons Arzo ahem on and so on and so forth what is the difference between a conversation book on on if one may say populist personality ism from the popular film medium and a conversation book with a with a classical musician what would you feel is how do you need to change gear to be in that space are you saying classical is not popular that's that that's what she's asking not as popular I think I beg to differ I think he is he is made it as popular yes we're talking about two different worlds despite of being accompanist we're talking about two different worlds because that world is also valid so that's something else but to pick up on what exactly has just said I think the heart of a conversation book which this is which Shanta really encouraged me to do is to listen and when you actually talk to people and this happens over many years the remin book took three years of stopping and starting lethargy was two years when he there a man was a year and a half Jacques Saab was about two years so basically it takes time and what are you doing that time you are actually listening to their story but when you go as I don't know how many of you are writers and journalists and they must be many because this is a book festival and basically when you go with a list of questions you should go away having not asked half of them simply because that means you haven't listened you're just jumping to the next thing and you're jumping to what you want rather than what's coming to at you you have to take what's coming at you and understand how are you going to surprise your subject with something else now these are people whether it is rocky sabor Java sabor Lata Gio anyone Ramon they have been giving interviews for years and years and endlessly the same question what has inspired you Vikram to do the work you're doing now so this is the most boring question you can ask anybody you know it's like saying what inspired you to make the omelet this morning it's it means nothing so exactly yes so you have to find a way of inquiring why should you waste time talking to you number one number two what have you got to say that's different and how do you become visible and invisible you are visible because you want this book to happen and you're invisible because you're listening and the more they trust you the more they'll tell you and how do you they trust you is you somehow ask them something they hopefully haven't heard before and there's always a new question it's like a new concert you not every concerts the same so the combination between people the conversations that happen between people bring out something new and for example in this book I don't know if there are any questions that Zakia Saab hasn't heard before but one point he did stop and listen very carefully and think about it and gave me an answer and it's when I asked him that his father had been teaching him from day zero when he was three or four years old asked him what was the thing that Alaric Aggie taught you that was the most essential man's a Kasab paused for a long time thought about it which really helped and surprised me and pleased me because it meant he gave it thought and then he said how do you get to the some you must not just be meandering along and then arrive there so basically I had thought I'd be a very complex answer coming up and then it was the simplest answer that's a metaphor as well it's a metaphor but it's a metaphor life and sometimes you actually realize that a book is like that you start somewhere a conversation and where will it lead but you have to know where its leading you have to steer it so your responsibility is to steer it now you had asked about the difference brings us back to rolls-royce yes it's the difference between the very popular classical music is the gem of India there is nothing to touch it nothing there is nothing so when you are dealing with classical music whether you're listening to it or you've got a record of it or you hear it in a Satechi three film like john sagar you are in a dream world but the fact of the matter is the dream world is also invaded by I hate the word but Bollywood music but you have to go for the best I have been very lucky really Zakir salmon you included I've been arrogant in one things I always wanted to do these conversation books with history-makers somebody who comes into their field whose changes it that person interests me so there's no doubt Jared sobbing salim-javed shirley and devar and his poetry change everything was a sub did the same Ramon did the same lethargy of course for 70 years she's been doing the same and Sachi Saab does the same so when you have someone who is a history maker you've got history then what does that happen our book follows so that's what I'd like to just just carrying forward from there why is it that you prefer to do it in the form of a conversation and not in your own words in the third person or there are so many ways of writing a book so in a conversation I would think you do not have the opportunity to add anything of your own interpretation onto the canvas so how how do you feel that the conversation helps what you're looking for to be honest I hope I'm recording some kind of history so when we all not here this book will be here so it's this business you were hit it on the nail on the head rather it's between being visible and invisible you're going to be visible in the future beyond you and that all connects up with what was that he was just saying actually that beautifully connects I am taking off from from the classical music popularity statement that was very popular I would like to ask you do you think you really think Indian classical music is popular is as popular as any popular form or should it be as popular as any other popular form like Bollywood well then this is a you know are two-sided answer first of all Indian classical music I actually in my view is more popular than any form of music in India now this is a big statement I may you may say well why I mean we don't go to seeing in classical music in stadiums and the movies are not etc etc and you know Sonu Nigam Shankar Mahadevan vishal-shekhar whoever it is that's famous Shahrukh Khan delicious yeah but first of all just imagine this you're talking about an art form which is a chamber music art form it's an art form which is best enjoyed and experienced in a small bed Huk that's where it really blossoms okay that's where it really thrives it becomes something of incredible and wondrous value dis musik so if you keep that in mind and you talk about mass form of entertainment ages films and whatever the film audiences has grown from the 1930s 40s etc popular music say by about 200% a 2000 people going to see a Filmfare Award ceremony in Shahrukh Khan and all has now become like a 200000 people or something like that okay now Indian classical music where 40 or 50 people sat in a room you can now get 10 20 30 thousand people in a festival to come and see Indian classical music that's not hundred or 200 percent that's way more than that so keep that in mind now there are purists among Indian classical music or Indian classical musicians who compare popularity to the kind of visibility and coverage that Bollywood has why don't we have that kind of coverage that's vanity that's ego that's forgetting what your music is about that's forgetting what you represent and the intimacy of what you represent you forget that and you want it to become a stadium form of music you want to play music on a stage but people projected on a screen for 10,000 people back there who have no clue what's going on to start with that's like a half a second behind anyway so you hit your da it's over it happens there people clap and so it's like why are they behind me you want them to clap with you but they are like behind you it's it's it that will happen so it's that is not what you mean classical music is but keeping the balance in mind it is definitely the most popular form of music over the last 60 years then ever be so that's one thing to consider secondly the bench strength of Indian music the bench strength of Indian music is amazing this is just unbelievable and it has longevity when I say that I'm not the best tabla player in the world that's me not the best tabla player in the world there's the 1520 really really fine table players who are just as good as I am if not better on their day you know this guy is a fabulous tabla player really really fine tabla player that's really I want to talk about him and I was talking about his table of course you have to wait for next but and when you talk about instrumentalists Indian classical music there's a ton of them who are playing incredibly well today's Indian classical musician is a well-rounded musician a musician who grew up parallely learning Indian classical tradition and world traditions so he's equally you know comfortable in any genre of music that's not something that I had the advantage of when I was learning I only had Indian music in those days you couldn't get LPS or EPS or something there was only radio Binaca geet mala is all that was and so on and and we didn't have any exposure to anything else but musicians of today young musicians like who could have imagined tabla player can be a composer the black player can be an act the black layer can do ad films I mean double up layer a secondary supposed citizen an accompanist but have that kind of an exposure so Indian classical music on all counts on every shelf is definitely a much more successful form of music in terms of its future in terms of its presence and its past being preserved and nurtured it's there so that's what I have to say about the popularity of this music I have a I have this little image in my head of what popular music and classical music is in if I were to compare it to a painting where popular music is always going to be the holding which is huge and which is 70 mm and then classical music is is the little Hossein you have in your house and you keep that as a treasure so that's that's for me where it's coming from this one last word is that basically wire conversation because you asked about that and I didn't answer it properly it is because it is a Kasab's voice now you can take it into your own words and change it and do whatever but you don't get his voice so the conversation really is how he saw it and that is why he's taking this form we have time just for one more question and there are there's tons of stuff I would love to ask him it's like a lifetime of questioning but okay he's taking it away from me now what I would what I would like to I it's still there this is for table players in general but for those who love table it's a very interesting thing to look at many many table players I have actually had conversations with quite a few who said that the table is a limited instrument because you all you only have rhythm yeah exactly you only have rhythm and you do not have melody the first time I heard melody exact notes of the raga coming out of the buyer was from him at a very young age and it blew my mind away I think it opened an entirely new Vista of what the possibilities of the instrument were I just like to ask you this then through this through the buyer hitting the melodic notes the table becomes a melodic as well as a rhythmic instrument I'm not talking about the metaphoric melody but it's the actual hitting of the notes where did you and how did you come to do that because I've never heard that before I have never heard it done by anybody after with such perfection first of all I can't take credit for it at all I have to say hard stories I'm going to tell you I saw Dolly concept the bean car the bean player playing a lot and Oh start the nizam Dean has herbs father sitting on stage the table maestro with him and he was a very edgy tabla player he just couldn't sit still so I mean as I said early cause I was playing bean and he's playing his a lab and then suddenly hear somebody talking but he can't see anybody and he continues at the Cubs father so after a while he just you know suddenly focused on on gossip and right now I don't know my old age short-term memory issues and he noticed that the concept was actually imitating the notes on the bio yeah because he just couldn't sit still he was a very nervous type of a fellow so he just kept doing that so that's the story I had heard and then one day I heard a recording off you won't believe it a Bollywood film called Pakeezah long it was a little morbid yeah but it wasn't a song it was an instrumental a title music okay in that race huh sobs I mean daruwala shivkumar Sharma ji hariprasad chaurasia G Romney Ryan G they are all playing great masters playing and there's a table playing and then there's a there's a jolla moment and the table is playing and the buyer is actually somehow imitating the notes of the chala being played toki allah by by the instrumentalist and it was Nizam within huzzah okay it'll come to me but azim Kasim azim so Nizam Bodine has up and that's I tied the story together because his father a team concept story I had heard and then I heard Nizam didn't exactly win Nizam Adem Qasim was one of the finest wo ever wore aggravation you haven't heard about really you haven't even heard of him right it's who was just an amazing tabla player and we all were taken and him accompanying gazelles and to Murray's and the Audra's and vocal music and instrumental he has recordings with with who start will I transom are in the late 50s early 60s who you won't believed it will ask ourselves playing more hip and eager to pain and enlarge here together that that's an old to Mary that would need no shots up gave in the film Villa concepts playing it as a modem hassabis accompanying him and then he plays lucky and it is to die for it's just amazing but anyway that's where I first had confirmation that that's happening then going to the Western world I saw Armando Peraza an afro-cuban conga player he used to play with Carlos Santana in 1972-73 and we played a concert opening to Carlos Santana at the end of the set Armando Peraza the conga player takes a solo he has five congas and now he's taking a driven solo but suddenly he's playing melodies on his left hand on the tomba and the conga he's playing melody and on his right hand in the Quinto he's doing a solo and switching back and forth and it was a it was a revelation to hear melodies being played on the drone I saw Max Roach the jazz drummer playing drums and then all his thump floor toms hi toms all tuned and then playing and even the cymbals the way he was hitting him they all had textures and tones separately melodies were happening and and and then I suddenly realized he is table which you can tune to a pitch the saw of the instrumentalists so you already have a tone I saw there and then the buyer even though you don't tune it now I've heard that it's possible to play pitches on it and to be able to make that happen in today's world is much easier because now you've got the sound guy who's your friend who can raise the base level and the mid levels and give it the Chris penis so that you can hear the attack and the pitches and all very clearly without much effort so that's where it all started for me it wasn't me I just thought about just taking all this information and all these inspiration and and advice from two musicians one was a fellow called George Harrison he was a you know like a talented get rock musician and one was another fellow called John McLaughlin and a child at Allen Ted guitar player I asked the same questions to both of them at different times I said to George Harrison you've studied sitar with Ravi Shankar why aren't you playing sitar in concert and he said Zaki I don't want to insult the teachings of my guru by playing bad sitar on stage I'm not a great sitar player I haven't learned it that much but I can take all that music and transpose it on my instrument the guitar which I am good at and pay homage imbibe it include it it just will make me a musician with a more point of views a better panoramic you know understanding of what music is all about universally speaking same thing I asked Sean McLaughlin John McLoughlin was studying veena and I asked him why aren't you playing the veena on stage I mean you be playing together bring the beam on and he said you know I don't want to you know in any way insult the memory of my guru by playing veena I'm not a good veena player but I've got all that information right here on the guitar and I am able to pay homage and pray to them through this I realize why not I can take the congas I can take the drums I can take the doumbek I can take the chamber bongos anything and printed on the table and in table is such a versatile instrument anyway the technique is such that you can play any riff any pattern from any drum in the world onto it so just let's do that and and and that's what's happening and that's what opened my eyes to being able to look at my repertoire my traditional repertoire and see if these colors will anyway brighten them up or bring out a different shade into it and that's what it is well Shantanu a thank you to you for actually being instrumental in commissioning this book no I must think nothing G for you know relentlessly following me until nice you know it all worked out and shot and shoe Montreux also must not forget as a kiss abs wife Antonia and who made oh really all of this happen and just all of you and thank you brick him and for me from somebody who I knew as a two-year-old who saw me grow up somebody who a very important juncture in my life gave me a piece of advice which really changed my life and now to be sitting here with him on the same so far it you know in our classical music world it doesn't work like this in our head it's always like he's there and I'm here and I I'll tell you what when you put me there and you are here you're taking the privilege of me being close to you away keep that in mind why are you separating me from me why are you sending me away that's not what and by the way he hasn't told you I baby sad him when he was young are you baby sad he watched him call his father and mother said watch him he bought me my first comic book okay so we have ten minutes for questions from the audience and please relevant ones and we have a lady who's with the raised hand can we have a microphone there you don't brilliant please don't you good evening my question is dressed to start the Sachsenhausen saw and it's turned up oh yes Sam stop my question is to you sir yes Salam aleikum walekum Salam my question is that you have told innumerable stories through your table be it compassion be love be would it be etre harmonizing yes it's all be hungry yes we would like to know like what would you take back with you from this our city of joy today the city of joy has been one of the most important cities in my life I was here as a 5 year 6 years old living on Hindustan road parallel to Rashmi Hari Avenue as a young kid then I used to just hang out there and play cricket and all that and everything on the street there there was a man called mr. PK das he has a jewelry store and he was a dear friend of my father's and in those days the music conferences would take place for months on and all the musicians from all over the country would come and live in Kolkata and play in various places 3-4 times a day and I remember being here at that time and would go around with in a car with people like beams and yoshiji my father Epogen gonca Nikhil benarjee all sitting together in a car playing a concert in Gupta para and running to maja jetty southern to play another concert on the way stopping at the dhaba to have dal tadka and and and and running over and playing I still remember those the music concerts alone was over so fantastic and this is this was the seat of art of culture this is the land of taku this is a land of nazareth this is you know where the theatre emerged found its footing and inspired the rest of India to be able to look at culture without fences and and so this is something that I have learned a lot about from Bengal and and thank God for Bengal thank God for all the aware and and culturally minded people like Yan Babu and Nala Babu and so on and everybody who made it possible for music to thrive here to to live here and and blossom the lady in black here do we have a microphone all right you the black yeah in the black okay that's all right that's all right I'm a student of university and I'm a big table aficionado so I would like to ask you you have been playing for a long long time so how is your playing style changed over the years and the second question is if not a tabla player which proficient would have gone for its two table players here we who are you asking this question so your question is how what see again how the style I answered that question earlier when I said about Armando Peraza and you know I've talked about him you know taking an assimilating information from JMA and congas and drums and doumbek and whatnot and everything and transposing it on our instrument you have to realize tabla is one of the youngest instrument entry into the indian classical fold it's not a thousand years old or something it's only a couple of hundred years old really so it's still finding its way most of the repertoire that table is is is performing comes from for college and and it's still there is repertoire there which we haven't deciphered enough to be able to transpose it onto the table LA and and lot of the material that was originally written for table isn't teenth on 16 beats and then we take it and mutate it and move it around to be played in other rhythm cycles as well because other rhythm cycles have a little limited repertoire available to us so it's still being developed and it's still being you know experimented with so that's an advantage that table players have that you know it's a new instrument and it will find its footing like santoor or you know that it will actually become something much more substantial could I could I add to his to the answer yes I have seen you over the years add many syllables or if I may say sounds to the to the instrument I mean if I if I hear you from the 70s and then we go to the 80s we hear new syllables which which you were introducing through a process of discovery I guess and that today is like immense because every concert there is a new sound a new syllable which i think is one of the most amazing things in that journey you wouldn't even imagine that that sound was possible in the repertoire of the table but then next time you go to his concert you see there's a new one and then you come back and you're like how did that happen it's so that has been incredible with asaji that's true for any table players i have to say that the discovery like Nizamuddin conserve and nazim conserve and you know so i have to tell you when i was talking about like say sometimes i play table and I say shank conch shell okay there was a Bollywood tabla player in the 1960s and in one of those variety programs I heard him play a table solo and and he said I'm going to now imitate for you the sound of the shank okay his name was Kamal Kahn tabla Blair just a regular tabla player playing in the Bollywood film industry and he did this interesting way of hitting the table then these table players were thinking about it just think about the way the table is being played in Indian film industry Radha canto was one of the great table players of Bengal film industry you must have heard those songs of solid Chaudhary ji bhagavati madhumathi Oh such navaja Bihari you know the tabla is so beautifully played at the tone and the projection those are things that other the great masters of yesteryear had no clue about and so the table players of today found a way to be able to figure out how best to project the sound of the instrument how to play into a microphone what tones of the table work better for the microphone I was doing a recording for Raj Kapoor subs satyam shivam sundaram so there was seen there and I had to play this fast in tal Jala type of rhythm just me table and I started playing it and then they said cut cut cut cut cut so I don't know what happened then there was some discussion ok start again 1 2 3 4 did you again cut cut cut and then some discussion and then Raj Kapoor Saab said betas are here I said yes uncle he said water too Chucky why are you not available Chucky it sounds like you're hitting a piece of wood in the recording it's not sounding very good so abstain from it and to something else a lesson from an actor to a tabla player it's is you never know where you are going to learn stuff from and and how you can use that so this is something that's happening that's the chap key we die for but anyway we have to we have to call it an evening because we have instructions from there but thank you so much for being such a wonderful audience and a huge thank you to start zakir husain for doing this in the city of joy and to Nasreen money Kabir ji for coming up with this book and gracing at the occasion and to Shantanu for having helped in bringing it out I will be available at the authors lounge to sign copies please get your copy sign

31 thoughts on “Ustad Zakir Hussain at Kolkata Literary Meet 2018

  1. He is right. I have heard Ustad Latif Ahmed Khan Sahab of Delhi Gharana imitating lehra tune on bayan.

  2. He's just like Mr. Bean ๐Ÿ˜ Oh! I absolutely adore this man! Zakir Hussain!

  3. Legend Sachin look like Ustad Zakhir ji.. Ustad ji looks like too Sachin ๐Ÿ‘Œ

  4. Such playful approach towards life and he brings such joy to be in his presence, i always enjoy the way he connects to everyone through his music through his words.. Thank you so much Ustadji !!

  5. I'm glad they conversed in English, therefore non Indian like me can understand it as well.

  6. He should get Bharat Ratna. It would be a dream come true if I could just put my head on his feet . ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

  7. I'm into tears after 'listening' to Zakir bhai…. and watta lucky guy Bikram ji is…. to be baby seated by Zakir bhai ๐Ÿ™†โ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™โ€โ™‚๏ธ

  8. Very nice conversation…Thank you to all and orgnaizing team…Thank you…

  9. How am i collect this book….Pls anyone help me?
    I want to brought this book..๐Ÿ™

  10. Thank you for uploading. His talks and his music serve as life lessons.

  11. Zakir ji table ka bhagwan ji kehna chahiye..india ko all world mein mashhor kiya

  12. Our leaders can learn from zakir ji how to live in harmony with yourself and others. Life is about uniting not dividing.

  13. I learn about life everytime you speak, and live life everytime I hear you play the Tabla.

  14. Whatโ€˜s the name of the tabla he talks about from about 49:00 onwards, playing with asad ali khan ? I didnโ€˜t understand him…

  15. As always, my head bows to his feet in kind humility! What a legend! What an artist! What a human being Zakirbhai is! Also proud of my younger brother Vikram for being him!

  16. One of the best interviews of Zakir, there are plenty in you tube but some information is quite unique here. Other panelists are also excellent , specially I got to know Vikram Ghosh well here. I could not realize how one hour seven minutes gone

  17. aise log kabi paida hi nhi hon gey main kehta hun ye baghwan k hi avtar hen…

  18. A huge amount of precious information about tabla accompaniment….every tabla player must imbibe to become a more rounded artist…..Thanks a lot for uploading

  19. Wah wah… bickram dada… zakir ji… what great stories โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ

  20. Thanks Bikram Ghosh for the question on how does he produce notes through the bayan? Amazing story by Zakir bhai! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. What a man….the whole humanity should stand up, make a note of this and learn from him.

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