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Interviews |  21 Sep 2015 14:51 |  By Dhairya Ingle

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan: Singers these days do not put enough time into riyaaz

Belting out some of Bollywood's most mesmerising songs like 'Jag Soona Soona Lage' (Om Shanti Om), 'Main Jaha Rahoon' (Namastey London) and the latest 'Yaadan Teriyaan' from (Hero), Rahat Fateh Ali  Khan's soul stirring vocals leave you wanting more. Despite the distance and border, Khan’s voice is a favourite in the country, mainly because of how he brings out such intense emotions through his songs.

The maestro’s recent visit to India, which comes after a long gap of four and half years, leaves him rather busy. However, Khan made time to talk to about his upcoming academy, a new album and much more.

It has been a while since you were in India. How has your trip been?

It feels great to come back to India after so many years. I wanted to come to India for quite a while. I am fortunate enough that God gave me a chance to come here and address pending legal matters with respective authorities. I am very happy that I am back, and like always the people of India have welcomed me with open arms. 

Your non film projects have such a massive impact on the masses. What is that one thing you always keep in mind while making your songs?

Like any human being, artists go through a variety of emotions. Tapping into those feelings through music is something that is essential. Independent music offers a space where artists can freely express themselves. So while making any song, I put my emotions into it. That is something that I have always maintained. I also feel that the kind of music people listen to has changed for good. People love listening to good music, and this change brings in a lot of fear for artists because then they start thinking of what will and will not work.

‘Zaroori Tha’, an indie track, was used 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani', which usually does not happen. How, according to you, is the indie space in India growing?

I have a long standing relationship with Mahesh Bhatt, as my first song was launched under his banner. Not only does he understand my music, but he also appreciates it. The best part about Vishesh Films is that songs from their films become popular regardless of results at the box office. Bhatt sahab has a keen ear for music and he makes sure that all his songs are melodious. I was really glad when he said he wanted my song for the film. It seems like a good decision because even the audiences loved it. Things like this show me that the indie space is here to grow.

What new music genres are you exploring for your upcoming album?

I am planning to experiment with a lot of new music genres. I have added elements of Spanish music to my upcoming independent album. Since I travel a lot, I listen to different kinds of music and imbibe them in some of my works. My album will have genres which I have never been explored be, and we intend to release it soon.

It is said that you intend to open music academies in India in the name of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Tell us more about this.

My academy will have teachers who will teach all genres of music, including pop, rock, western classical, Indian classical and others. My academy will have teachers specialising in these genres, so if a child wants to learn pop, there will be instructors who teach the best pop music. Similarly, if a child wants to learn quwwali, I will be around or there will be other ustads who will teach the genre. I plan to set up these academies in Mumbai, Karachi and London. I feel that India is a very talented country and kids here require minimal training, but Pakistan needs good music teachers. We will take a while to finish this project, but we expect the academies to start by 2016.

What do you think are shortcomings in the present generation of singers?

We rely on machines a lot today. International artists use analogue technology. While the most expensive studios in the west, which costs around 500-700 crores, have an analogue facility, here you can set up a digital studio in three to five crores. The creators of digital technology are using analogues, here we are, relying on machines. I also think the present generation of singers does not spend enough time for riyaaz. We used to practice for 10 hours daily, and our ragas would change according to the time. So if I am practising bhoop, a morning raag, I would wake up at 4 am and do my riyaaz, and by the time I reached Yaman or Kalyan, I would already finish 10 -12 hours of my riyaaz.