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Posted at: Mar 24, 2015, 12:34 AM; last updated: Mar 23, 2015, 9:44 PM (IST)

The seventh string

Though seventh-generation sitar exponent Ustad Chhote Rahimat Khan has given music for several Marathi films and plays, commercial considerations are far away from his mind
The seventh string

Ustad Rahimat Khan (left) with his brothers, in Chandigarh at the invitation of Pracheen Kala Kendra

Somya Abrol

Though debatable, legacy does not always weigh light on the shoulders. While some succumb to its pressure, some others exclaim statements like, “It’s not pressure; it’s pleasure.”

Fifty-six-year-old, seventh-generation sitar exponent Ustad Chhote Rahimat Khan defends his stance by saying, “Pressure becomes pressure when you stop learning; when you presume in your mind that you know everything there is to learn. In my field, however, that can never be the case. We belong to a family of sitar players; in our family, one can never learn too much. As it is, classical music is not something you can learn in a few years if you set your mind to it. It takes consistent practice and endless riyaaz; only then, after about 30 to 40 years of playing does one get to understand the true soul of the music.”

Belonging to the Bande Ali Khan (beenkar) gharana, Ustad Rahimat Khan took his taleem from father Abdul Karim Khan and grandfather Ratna Rahimat Khan. Despite having given the background score and music for some Marathi films (like Vadhachakra and Tulsi) and plays (Abhidanyan Shakuntal by Kalidasa), the Ustad believes music for commercial purposes is not his true calling: “We do it because time requires it. It’s a part of our job to give music to such productions if required. However, it is not our real job. The essence of our profession cannot be tarnished by commercialism.”

And his advice for youngsters? “Be very, very patient; it’s an acquired skill. Besides, in youngsters these days, I’ve also noticed that the sanskaar we were brought up with are missing. Though they regard their guru, their demeanor is not as pure as it used to be in our time,” says the 56-year-old Ustad.

In Chandigarh on the invitation of the Pracheen kala Kendra, Ustad Chhote Rahimat Khan performed with his younger brothers Ustad Rafique Khan and Ustad Shafique Khan. About what they had prepared for the Chandigarh audience, he said, “Since we performed after 6.30 pm, we had to perform a suryaast ka raag. We can’t always pre-decide what we’re going to perform. Most times, we change our decision last minute or even while we’re on stage. First we thought we would perform the Kirwani raag for Chandigarh, but when we got here, we were told some other performer has already taken up that raag!”


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