Ustad Zakir Hussain: Dying to hear ‘Waah, kya baat hai’ from my fans in India


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After a break of almost three years, tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain has been performing at back-to-back shows in India. After his recent group concerts in Delhi and Pune, the musician is looking forward to his first solo show in Thane (Maharashtra) on December 11. “Having not performed for three years in India, it is fitting that I start again with a solo in Thane, a city where I performed my first-ever solo act as a teenager. I have missed locking eyes with the fans in India and hearing their encouragement, ‘Waah, kya baat hai’. I am dying to hear these words again,” says Hussain.

Ask the 71-year-old if Indian classical music still has takers across age groups, including the youth, and he says, “The advent of digital music platforms has opened newer avenues for music to reach audiences who appreciate such music across geographies. Even in India, there is a positive trend of young Indians appreciating classical music, but we still have a long way to go.”

Hussain feels the tabla, as an instrument, has evolved with time and that’s the reason behind its global popularity. “Tabla is one of the youngest Indian classical instruments. It is only about 250 years old. This has turned out to be an advantage for the instrument, as the technique applied on the tabla enables it to duplicate any and every rhythm pattern in the world. That’s why the tabla has found takers all over the world and players like myself were able to imprint rhythms of many countries and genres onto the tabla, making it relevant for these times and hopefully the future,” says the veteran, who finds jazz the most relatable form of music form among the western genres. “Jazz has found acceptance among the younger generation in India. I have always enjoyed the genre and have collaborated with many jazz artistes. The tabla beats always create a perfect symphony with jazz,” Hussain ends.

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