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Up close with Talat

Talat Aziz unplugged on dynamic fusion, his latest concept, with RADHIKA RAJAMANI



The singer in apna shahar — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

WITH KAISE Sukoon Paaon he arrived in a blaze of glory. And 25 years later his silky, smooth voice still resonates across the music firmament. Hyderabad's apna Talat Aziz has indeed come full circle. Dynamic fusion now makes an entry into his repertoire.

"In the early Nineties I thought about blending classical and ghazal on a bed of modern age sound. Then some time back I felt why not combine different versions of vocal music? Why restrict it to only Indian? Why not use film, classical, ghazal, jazz, R & B, folk, rap? I firmly believe music has no barriers. This was the starting point," says the dapper singer-actor-composer relaxing at Hotel Taj Krishna. He got together a core team (Louis Banks, Rashid Khan and Sonya Sehgal) to start Dynamic Fusion about a year ago. "It is not a band, it is a concept."

New concept

"How to blend is important. The identity of each style is maintained, though there is a meeting point. Rashid Khan, a purist, was initially hesitant to sing along with the keyboard, saxophone and drums but I convinced him." Only a few concerts have been held in Mumbai, Delhi and Dubai and more are on the anvil in Chennai, Mauritius and South Africa this year.

Dynamic fusion is not restricted to just four people. As evident from the title musicians join in now and then. "We had Shaan in Delhi, Abhijeet in Mumbai, a Rajasthani folk singer and even Blaise, a rap artiste. The idea is to mix and match. In fact at times I imagine whether Paul McCartney and Rashid Khan can occupy the same stage or Sting could be paired with somebody."

Dynamic Fusion is certainly a new concept in vocal singing and Talat feels "what we are trying to do is unique and path-breaking. People will take some time to understand and appreciate this." But he is confident "this will be popular abroad and will come back in India."

Of young talent

For one who is known for his ghazals (despite his other musical endeavours) Talat Aziz is doing his bit to encourage young talent in this genre. "Music companies are doing remixes. Where is the forum to showcase young talent?" With Pankaj Udhas he has revived the Khazana music festival in Mumbai. "This two day festival provides a platform and the proceeds go to research in cancer and thalassemia. We are planning this in all cities in the future." The Seventies and Eighties produced names like Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhas, Anup Jalota, Hariharan, Talat Aziz and others in ghazals. Although there are young singers on the bloc like Mohammed Vakil and Jasvinder Singh Talat expresses doubt whether they can make it big like his contemporaries. "Language is one problem and the gestation period is too long. In my generation there were good ghazals in films. So if one sang in a film one became well known. With action and sleaze dominating the film industry where does the ghazal fit in? Somath Sen (director of Leela) wants Rashid Khan to sing for his latest film (for Amitabh Bachchan). But how many such films are made?"

Actor-composer

Talat Aziz began his silver jubilee celebrations in Mumbai. "That concert was my tribute to ghazal. Ghulam Ali and Rashid Khan also sang. The twin CD's of this live concert will be out shortly," says Talat, who has done a cameo in a film Chand sa Roshan Chehra directed by Shahab Shamsi. "I am game to doing meaty roles. The climax hinges on me in this film starring newcomers." Talat Aziz is likely to act and compose music for another serial. Wait and watch. And so shall we.

Sukoon paaya...

THE COGNOSCENTI was there in large numbers at the Ballroom in Hotel Taj Krishna to listen to Talat Aziz. As usual the concert started an hour and a half late after much speeches, bouquets and an audio-visual presentation.

Liquor had already started flowing and once Talat began there was a flood of melody. To suit the rainy atmosphere Talat began with a Barsaat ki bheegi raaton mein... How can there be a concert without the famous Kaise sukoon paaon... Talat obliged with two versions - one, which he used to sing before it became a hit, and the other, the popular version, composed by Jagjit Singh. The earlier seemed to have a heavy tinge of the classical, while the latter was in typical Jagjit style - soft and subtle.

By interacting with the audience, Talat was able to strike the right chord. Some of his other ghazals were Chahenge tujhe par kabhi rusva na karenge... , Chand chehra lijab ankhein mein... and a composition of Hyderabadi's Iqbal Patni - Ishq mein kya katha ho gayi... .

The movement within the hall (thanks to the liquor) and the smoking was quite distracting. In fact the singer had to make pleas against smoking. One wonders why people cannot just savour the music seriously than be bothered about entertainment, food and wine. The sound system too was not up to the mark. Despite this Talat and his musicians Jeetu Shankar (tabla), Lalit Shankar (dholak), Nikesh (keyboard), Akhlaq (harmonium) and Srinivasan (flute) put up a good show. Talat's acknowledgement of veterans Vittal Rao and Hakim Ragi was heartening.

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