CD review

Chaotic colours

Shujaat Khan, the son of the late sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, and the cousin of the living legend Ustad Shahid Parvez, is not a new name to the world of Hindustani instrumental music. Time and again, Shujaat releases new albums of his non-pure classical music. In the current album, he has collaborated with the Pakha singers who are famous for their Dogri folk songs.

The cover of the album carries an image of Shujaat sitting with these folk musicians whose names go unmentioned. The cover also says the album is an ‘eclectic collection of folk, classical, fusion, sufi, sitar, ghazal and geet’, leaving you wondering what is going to unfold over the course.

The album opens with the track Sajani, composed and written by Azaan Khan. The rustic voices of the folk singers welcome you before Shujaat himself decides to sing in a rather bland voice. One wonders what the composer had in mind while writing these lyrics which sound like the 1990’s Bollywood love songs rendered by Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu. While Shujaat Khan is a wonderful classical musician, vocal music has never been his forte and his voice isn’t half as sweet as the strains of his melodious sitar. One wishes he plays more of his sitar and sings less.

The second track, Mere Khwaja Meri Zindagi, and the fourth one, Ya Khwaja Moinuddin , a composition of the late Ustad Vilayat Khan saab, are beautiful tracks as a tribute to the Sufi saint Hazrath Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi of Ajmer. The second one would have suited more for a qawwali.

The third track, Ye Barsaat ki Raat, is based on a traditional folk song from Bihar. It would have been better sung by the folk artistes, but Shujaat decides to take the mike and flaunt his besuraa voice once again. The pure music interludes are the best parts, if at all.

The fifth and sixth tracks, Ruk Beilerey and Tut Gaiyan Bediyan, are based on Jammu folk songs and open with the wonderful rustic voices of the Pakha singers. Tut Gaiyan Bediyan has a lovely beat and a festive spirit, and is thoroughly enjoyable.

A small mention of who these excellent artistes are, either on the cover or on the CD wouldn’t have cost anything to either Shujaat, or the music company Saregama. It is absolutely insensitive and disrespectful to these artistes who were not only the collaborators of this album, but have also added life it.

The last track, Maula Maula, is once again a traditional composition set to tune by Azaan Khan. Once again, we wished Shujaat played more of his sitar than exhibited his voice.
We love Shujaat, and love his sitar even more. What makes instrumentalists to assume they can also sing well and end up torturing audiences with their bad voices remains a mystery. On the whole, this album is just a chaotic assortment of tracks that neither satisfies the urge to listen to more of Shujaat’s sitar nor the wonderful folk songs of the Pakha singers.

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