The Week, November 2013
After a long time I saw a brilliant movie in flight produced by Yashraj films! The name of the film is very interesting and earthy called Band Baja Baraat. The whole concept of the movie was so unique and fresh. I must congratulate the young vibrant Anushka Sharma and highly talented Ranvir Singh, I am sure they will achieve their goal in a short time.

For any celebrations in India you need a Band, to suit the ambience of the celebration. The word BAND has multifarious and a multidimensional meaning. In Delhi itself, there are about 1000 groups of bands by the names of Shiv Mohan, Master Chawla and Jea Band etc But about 100 groups are the best. One could write a history on these struggling bands and how they began in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

During the wedding processions people dance and shower money on the bridegroom in the shape of coins and also notes on the vibrant tune of the band (now mainly film songs). The currency flows. I remember the time when these wedding bands even played Come September! The poor members of the band who are generally underpaid patiently watch our age old vulgar expression of love and money. Bride and bridegrooms are almost worshipped like The Almighty - God.

The wedding celebrations are the big events. To have music in the wedding celebrations was always considered auspicious. In our country, music or appealing sound was always preferred as ‘swar hi ishwar hai’. Historically wedding songs were performed by the women of the family, now day’s people hire professional female singers. At one time, the Shenai became an integral part of Indian weddings. But it always depends on the desire of the Bride and the bridegroom what kind of music and artist, musician they would like to invite. Similar concept was observed down south. The diva M.S Subbulaxmi and several other great musicians performed in weddings in south and north. There was a time when I myself performed for weddings of the Birlas, Goenkas in Kolkata and Mumbai.

One of the patrons of Indian Classical music was babu Kishori Raman Prasad in Varanasi, his son Shri Raman, my friend, got married in 1964, In their historic Palatial house which was built in 1939. After my sarod Recital Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb sang and the evening was concluded by Ustad Vilayat Khan’s sitar. Tabla accompaniment was provided by Pandit Samta Prasad and with me it was Kishan Maharaj. The entire city of Varanasi enjoyed this musical feast. In the year 1974 my friend Mr. Arup Sarkar got married in Kolkata. His father revered Ashok Kumar Sarkar was fond of Indian Classical music and he admired most of the classical musicians especially my father Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb, Enayat Khan Saheb and legendary Ustad Fayyaz Khan Saheb. Arup bhai was deeply involved in classical music and because of him I could play Rabindra Sangeet and could record an album ‘Tribute to Tagore’ with legendary Suchitra Mitra. At his wedding there was a great singer Sharafat hussain Khan Saheb of Agra Gharana. Vilayat Khan Saheb was also invited but due to sudden injury he could not perform. I was very fortunate to have played with living legend Hiru Babu (Hirendra Kumar Ganguly) on the tabla and finally Samta Prasad.

I feel sad that now days, concerts at wedding are done in a rather inappropriate manner. While understanding that it's a celebration, it feel that a moving crowd or service happening while the performance it on is not giving any respect to music or the artist. I always take the example if my concerts for HRH prince Charles who always on all occasion stuck to theater style seating and no service while my concert was in progress.
I always prefer to perform in closed auditorium where people can experience the innermost sound. But sometimes the organizations chose oceans as a back drop and erect a stage in fancy situations. I am caught unaware in most cases and it becomes a great challenge for my sound engineer to overpower the natural sound of the waves and oceans. However, it visually very appealing, especially festivals in Goa and Malabar!!!