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Sitar maestro Shujaat Husain Khan talks about his new album and his role as a music director
Sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan may have over 60 albums to his credit besides a Grammy nomination, but the maestro's imagination is still in full flow. Call of the River, Khan's latest album, is a tribute to the rivers and their cycle of life. "The album is my imagination of a river from its birth till it merges with the sea," says Khan, the son and disciple of the late master sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan.
The six-track album, which is mostly instrumental and has Khan singing a few lines in a couple of tracks, is nowhere near a pure classical set. Instead, his sitar twirls with the guitar played by his 19-year-old son Azaan, alongside other folk touches and sound effects of waves and flowing water.
His contemporary approach to music is now extended to Bollywood as well. He has composed six songs for the forthcoming Mr Singh/Mrs Mehta, and the music is quite different from his classical mould. "It is a low-budget film, but then I don't get involved in something for the heck of it," says Khan.
Although Khan bagged the coveted Grammy nomination four years ago for The Rain, his Indo-Persian collaboration with Kayhan Kalhor, a master kamancheh player, he claims collaborations are not quite his thing. "For me to collaborate with another musician, I need to know and respect him/her on a personal level. Collaborations on a regular basis are not for me," he says. But his music goes on. Khan, who will soon be travelling to Europe and the US, has two new albums under way. "One is on Kabir and the other on Amir Khusro. They are due for release in November," he says. For now, a river flows through his sitar.