“Music transcends all boundaries”
An adage that defines what singer Shafqat Amanat Ali stands for. Perhaps, one of the most loved artists in the subcontinent, he shot to fame with Fuzon's (his band) first album. Shafqat is the son of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and belongs to the illustrious Patiala Gharana. Having had a Hindustani classical music training, Shafqat decided to try something different and worked on bringing together sufi, folk and classical music with western rock.
His foray into Bollywood has made him one of the most sought after artists in the subcontinent. Shafqat is known for some fabulous hits like 'Mitwa', 'Dildaara and 'Bin Tere'. Aparna Mudi of Zee Media Corp spoke to the illustrious artist about his music, future plans and more.
What brings you to India?
This India tour is for a very old commitment to perform in Kolkata. I am also here for some small projects and recording some pieces for a film. I have already recorded the songs and this time it is just for doing some small parts for Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha starrer 'Tevar'.
Are you working on any new solo albums?
Yes, I am working on a solo album. Without revealing too many details, I can tell you that it is now in the mixing process. We are working on some last bits, and it is almost ready.
Do you like doing playback singing, live concerts or do you like working on collaborations like 'Dewarist', 'Unplugged' and 'Coke Studio'?
I don't have any particular preference. It all depends on what sort of work I get. If I am doing more satisfactory work on solo albums then that excites me. But if we have a good collaboration and if it is coming out to be a good song and a good composition, then that makes me happy as well. What matters is that it should be something that I can relate to later.
Who would be your dream collaboration with?
I won't like to name someone as I would keep thinking later that I may have missed out on someone important. The only criterion I have is that the person I collaborate with is as interested as I am in the project.
Anybody from the past....
I think I would have loved to work with someone like Madan Mohan ji and Salil Chowdhury ji.
How important do you think classical music training is in playback singing?
It is really important. It is like writing an English book. If you don't even know ABCD, grammar or the basics of the language – you won't be able to write a good piece. If you haven't trained to know the basics of singing then your work will just be a fluke and not proper singing.
Do you think the independent music scene in the subcontinent has become better with the passing years?
Film music has always been very dominating in India. Whereas that is not the case in Pakistan as it does not have a strong film industry. People just create what they want. They don't have to follow a certain situation. They don't need to compose something according to the writer or a set story. People have a free hand and that is a blessing in disguise.
But now, even in India a lot of people have made that change in the industry. Starting from AR Rahman to composers like Pritam, all of them are doing fabulous work. There is a plethora of music directors such as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar, Vishal Bharadwaj, Salim-Suleiman who have taken the music industry to another level. It is very refreshing.
Do you have any message for your fans?
I would definitely like to send out a message to everyone to stop downloading illegally. Piracy is causing great damage to music and music industry per say. It is an advice to all the people who love music to buy music because downloading and piracy is one of the biggest challenges that the industry faces today. All the music that you love is available easily, it is inexpensive and is just a click away.