Music runs in their family and Ustad Moinuddin Khan and his son Momin are sincerely carrying forward the legacy. Belonging to the Jaipur gharana, the sarangi players are all set to perform at Vasantotsav 2019 in Pune and both of them are extremely excited about their performance. “I extremely love performing in Pune. It is one of my favourite places to perform. People of Pune really appreciate classical artists and it feels like family. Momin and I have prepared a set of songs sung by the late Vasantrao Deshpande and I’ve asked Momin to prepare them very well. We will end our performance with those songs. It will be a small tribute to him from our side,” says Khan Saab.
Khan Saab inherited the art from his father Mehboob Khan, who was also a well-known Sarangi player and had trained a number of students in his lifetime, one of the most outstanding among them being Pandit Ram Narayanji.
Ustad Moinuddin worked with All India Radio, Jaipur as a sarangi player for several years. He has given several solo performances on the radio as well as state-run Doordarshan channel. He recalls his first performance at the Delhi All India Radio, where he had gone for recording. “The first time I went to All India Radio, Delhi, was to record my performance. I was just 16 then and performing at All India Radio at that time was a huge deal because only renowned artists used to perform there and do recordings. I was called by the chief producer of All India Radio for the recording and I was approved under the grade A, which no artist in India has ever got at such a young age. Funnily, instead of meeting the chief producer, I met another member of authority and he wasn’t aware of where I came from or my background. So he just asked me to leave saying that they didn’t have time for next four days for any recordings. I then went to the chief producer and told him about the situation. He immediately called everyone saying I was the son of Ustad Mehboob Khan, who was the guru of Pandit Ram Narayanji. The very next day, my recording was scheduled. I went to the studio and the moment I started playing, everyone gathered around me and started listening. They were completely spellbound. I was asked to join All India Radio then,” expresses Khan Saab.
The maestro feels extremely upset about how radio and Doordarshan have gone down in demand and there are hardly any people who watch the channel and listen to radio. “These days people don’t even have radios at home. Back in my time, people used to be so excited about listening to artists on radio. But now the format has completely changed — hardly any artist performs on radio and it makes me really sad,”he laments.
Talking about the exposure of Indian Classical Music on television, Khan Saab demands to have a dedicated channel for classical music in the prime time slot. “How else will the younger generation get to know about their country’s music?” he queries.
His son Momin started playing with him, four years ago, in 2015. Initially, Khan Saab was skeptical about his skills, but the first time they both performed together, Momin stole the show and everyone appreciated him. Khan Saab was very proud of him and ever since they have been playing together.
Mominrecalls his journey of joining the family tradition. Initially, he aspired to be a cricketer. “As child I wanted to become a cricketer and played the game regularly. One day, I was going for a match, and my father called me and asked me, “How many people play cricket?”. I answered, ‘Quite a lot’. Then he questioned, “How many people play the sarangi?” and I answered, ‘Quite a few’. He didn’t say anything after that but the statement got stuck in my head and that’s how I started following in my father’s footsteps. I still play cricket but not as much. I am thankful to my father who made me realise the value of sarangi,” says Momin.
The 19-year-old is presently pursuing his Bachelor degree in vocals from University of Punjab and manages to strike a balance between education and music. “It very important for a sarangi player to know how to sing. I wanted to study something which is related to music and would also help me with sarangi and that is why I chose vocals. When you study music, you need to have more practical learning than theory. So my riyaz also helps me to finish my practical lessons. I don’t really have to struggle much to balance both due to this,” Momin signs off.