In conversation with Suhail Khan, a Sarangi player from Delhi
Q What attracted you to the Sarangi instrument ??
The sound of the Sarangi is something that I find irresistible and I craved from childhood to play like my grandfather the great Sarangi Samrat Ustad Sabri Khan and uncle Janab Kamal Sabri, who have been my inspiration and ideal.
Q Since today is an MTV crazy crowd that one gets to see does it give you any complex in playing the ancient instrument ??
No not at all. In fact the Sarangi has stood out in a rock performance. Let me tell you of an incidence to show how much it was appreciated. After a Rock Fusion concert performance in Mumbai at Bandra Kurla ground for the MTV festival the media and people from the audience thronged around me with an expression of amazement heaping lavish praise on the versatility instrument. More so because of a little innovation I had done on the instrument. I used a pick up and a processor which helped inits resonance and bringing forth more sound effects in the Sarangi. The inclusion of the Sarangi in Rock fusion concerts is a development of the recent past and I am proud to say that it has showed its mettle here too.
Q How many hours of practice do you put in on an average everyday ??
One has to be consistent as far as daily practice is concerned. The duration may vary. I put in an average 1 ½-3 hours of daily practice depending on the time available as I have to cover a large syllabus being a student. Listening to old recordings of Sarangi helps in acquiring more knowledge about the instrument and its great maestros of yesteryear’s.
Q How has the Sarangi been received among your schoolmates ??
I have noticed that they have developed a keen interest about the instrument watching me playing the instrument and question me on its various aspects. Some have even evinced interest in learning to play the instrument. I feel that Sarangi is once again gaining its deserved popularity.
Q What do you have to say about the myth that it is a very difficult instrument to play ??
Playing the Sarangi is indeed a tough task as it is the only instrument that is played with the cuticles and the excruciating pain. However, I would say for that matter playing most of the stringed instruments like Sitar, Guitar, Violin, Cello etc., is also a painful experience in the beginning. When people can learn the above instruments then why not Sarangi? Nothing is gained without a little pain and hard work. A good Guru and self innovation in playing the instrument adds to its beauty.
Q What is the future of Sarangi ??
Sarangi has proved time and again that it cannot be wiped off from the music scene. It has emerged to the forefront from oblivion once again.The Sarangi is now being used more frequently in Films, Classical music,as a solo instrument and accompanying instrument. In the global music scene it is finding its space in fusion and rock music too.