In fact today I consider my self a citizen of the world. My Father and Guru Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb taught me not only music but a complete way of life. He gave importance to a code of conduct, especially with regard to the respecting manner in which one behave with senior musicians and younger musicians. He taught me the value of blessings, compassion, kindness, surrender-ness, generosity and realization of a common God. In his teachings, he often mentioned that I should always encourage young musicians and respect the musicians whose contributions are recognized by the world. In accordance with that teaching, our annual Haafiz Ali Khan Award ceremony which started in 1985 was held again in Mumbai this year. The aim of this festival was to honour living music legends from the world of Indian and western classical music for their immense contributions in their respective felids while they were at the peak of their carriers. In the past, the Award ceremonies have taken place in all the major cities of India (including Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad) and also in London and Germany. The Award winner this year was Mr. John McLaughlin, one of the greatest guitarists of our times. We are really honored and touched that Mr. John McLaughlin personally came to receive this Award. After the ceremony, the grand children Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan gave one of their most memorable performances at Nehru Centre in Mumbai. We had a great number of representatives from the music fraternity. This was very inspiring. From the time my father and Guru, passed away in 1972, we observed his first death anniversary through a 17 day festival of music and dance held at Kala Mandir in Kolkata. All the great classical musicians and dancers paid their musical homage. From then on our music festival traveled across the country.
My father’s ancestral home in Gwalior was converted into a museum called the ‘Sarod Ghar’. We will always be indebted to the celebrities and dignitaries who visited the Sarod Ghar- to honor the great masters. Among these were: Congress president Shrimati Sonia Gandhi, Former Prime Minister of India Shri. Atal Behari Vajpayee, Former President of India Mr.K.R Narayanan, Former Vice President Mr Krishan Kant, Former President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Raj Mata Saheba of Gwalior-Vijayraje Sindia, Finance Minister of India Shri Pranav Mukherjee, Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shri Digvijay Singh, Former Minister of Railway and Civil Aviation Shri Madhav Rao Sindia, Former Human Resource Development Minister of India Shri Arjun Singh and Prime Minister Dr. and Mrs Manmohan Singh.
On the subject of festivals, I was recently in Goa to attend the 4Oth International Film Festival of India 2009.This is the first time that the Film Festival had included classical musicians and their documentary films with the caption-“MOMENTS WITH MAESTROS-a bouquet of films on music exponents”
My heartiest congratulations to Ambika Soni, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Mr. S.M Khan-The Director of Film Festival and Mr Kuldeep Sinha-Chief producer of Film Division for including and promoting Indian classical music and their Documentary films in the Festival. Now Goa seems to have become the permanent venue for international Film Festival. This is the 6th year that the festival is being held in Goa.
This year, the festival included 25 documentary films of classical musicians (which includes north and south Indian musicians and dancers).My film [Amjd Ali Khan] which was made in the year 1990-91 by the great poet and film maker Gulzar Saheb was shown in the presence of Gulzar Saheb and Dr. Jabbar Patel. During our stay we also saw a beautiful film on the Legendary Kumar Gandharva made by Dr. Jabbar Patel and a film on the Sarod made by a young film maker, Mr Kumar Gogi.
After seeing my film I felt very sad to realize that certain portions of the film had been destroyed and I was told that it is under restoration. I was also told that there were many other films on great masters which were under restoration. It is my appeal to the authorities of Information Ministries and honorable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh to kindly do the needful so that we can preserve the memories of great masters like Bala Saraswati and Rukhmini Arundale, the two greatest Bharat Natyam Dancers etc amongst others. To make best of these documentary films which are produced all over the world, I feel that every Indian Mission or Embassy should have a film and Doordarshan division. Through these divisions, films made on Indian musicians across the world can be streamlined into India and our archival heritage could be shared especially with the N.R.I s.
At the festival, we also collectively felt the urgent need for an exclusive and twenty-four hour TV channel which would broadcast classical music and documentary films and a radio station similar to world Space which would continuously play Indian Classical Music 24 x 7. I hope that the government of India considers our appeal so that our ancient art of Indian Classical Music can be preserved and popularized.