As the lead vocalist of Fuzon, Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan was already popular. His film innings in India has made him a big name and now this ninth generation singer from the Patiala gharana is all set to release his second album Kyun Dooriyan. On phone from New Delhi, the singer elaborates on his music E x c e r p t s :
Apart from being taken literally, Kyun Dooriyan could be a metaphor for various things. What is the USP of this album?
I am very pleased with this album, which is very upbeat and has energy-rich songs as well as ballads. My work has been my claim to fame and I have given importance to melodies here with a lot of variety, There are four Punjabi numbers and a thumri, Kaaga jaa. The lyrics include traditional numbers.
Your debut album Tabeer was highly appreciated.
Yes, but it did better in India because we had to release it in Pakistan during the month of Ramzan when people don’t buy music or indulge in what might be called extracurricular activities. In India that issue wasn’t there.
You hail from a nine-generation lineage of classical musicians. How do they look at your rock and Western inclinations?
It has always been a tradition in my family to experiment – the ghazals that were composed by my uncle were like popular music. My brother too sang pop. So no one had any issues.
Does it not prove unsettling or difficult to shunt from traditional to modern forms?
It’s neither difficult nor disturbing, It’s fun. I do a lot of traditional singing too, like ghazals, thumri and khayal.
You have sung for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Pritam, Sajid-Wajid, Vishal-Shekhar and Salim-Sulaiman. How easy is it to dub songs from back home?
I do try my best to be here for each film recording, but sometimes visas and dates come in the way. I prefer that the music directors are there when I dub it. If I do have to dub it from home, I prefer to give 2-3 versions so that the music directors get choices.
But that actually gives you more latitude to contribute to the song.
I wouldn’t call that freedom, I don’t feel comfortable on my own, despite the fact that I get a proper brief.
Which of your Indian film songs have been most satisfying?
All of them, I would say. Each one had a different style. Yeh hausla was a great song, so was Mitwa and so were my other songs. Karvan from Hello was a beautiful song. But they wasted it on screen.
As a classically-trained singer, how do you find singing for films?
It’s been a learning process from every composer.
And do you aim to compose for our films?
I do not know. Composing for films is not easy. It is different from working on classical, pop and fusion and very challenging. I would rather leave it to all your very talented composers.
Some singers from Pakistan are fads here but, frankly, are below par. What do you think of them, vis-a-vis genuine talents from your country?
I guess it is okay because it is the composer, producer and director who should be happy at the end of the day. But I do not understand why someone who cannot sing well be considered for songs, here or anywhere else, irrespective of their origins. I think that at the end of the day any proper singer should be able to sing a song ‘live’ in perfect sur and taal.
*Shafqat Amanat Ali Is the son of the legendary Pakistani singer Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and a descendent of the nine- generation old Patiala Gharana. A student of classical music since he was four, he was inspired by his father, his uncle Ustad Fateh Ali Khan as well as Roshanara Begum. He has been honoured by the President as the Pride of Performance in Pakistan on August 14, 2007, making him the sixth from his family to receive this honour.
*Shafqat’s voice is a unique blend of classical gaayaki and contemporary style. He was the lead vocalist of the popular Pakistani band Fuzon. Their first album Saagar (Fuzon became the first band to release their debut album concurrently in both Pakistan and India) was a major hit, which featured rock blended with classical and folk vocals. The opening track Aankhon ke saagar , Ankhiyan, Tere bina and Mora saiyyan became instant favourites across Pakistan and India. The last two songs also featured in Nagesh Kukunoor’s Hyderabad Blues 2.
*But Shafqat became a name recognised beyond Fuzon when he sang the hit Mitwa for Karan Johar‘s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna followed by Yeh hausla from Dor. He later sang Karvan for Hello, Tum mile for Tum Mile, Tere naina for My Name Is Khanna and has also recorded for I Hate Love Stories and Patiala House.