“You can ban Pakistani artistes but you can’t stop music from connecting people,” Rahat Fatah Ali Khan
Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the most beautiful Sufi voices of our times, has often said that he loves performing in India and that he receives the best welcome here compared to anywhere else in the world.
However, after tension between India and Pakistan escalated post the Uri attacks in Kashmir, a decision to ban Pakistani artists from performing in India was taken by various independent bodies of the Hindi film industry.
The biggest casualty of the tensed Indo-Pak relations was, of course, Fawad Khan but other artists, including Rahat, were also equally affected.
Rahat’s last major hit in a Bollywood movie was ‘Jag Ghoomeya’ in Salman Khan’s Sultan. While he’s yet to record another Bollywood track, he has, in the meanwhile, come up with a single titled, ‘Saware’. Shot in the poetic city of Lucknow, ‘Saware’ features Kunal Khemu, an actor who was also in one of Rahat’s early hits, the ‘Jiya Dhadak Dhadak’ track from Mohit Suri’s Kalyug.
Speaking from Pakistan, Rahat told HuffPost India, “It was an immensely satisfying experience to sing this song. It was shot in Lucknow in June last year where it was extremely hot – about 45 degrees. But we managed and the result is splendid.”
The singer added that 2016 was a particularly interesting year in his career, a year that gave him several hits. “Ever song is reflective of the times it is set in. My intention always is to retain the integrity of my music in every track that I croon. I feel I evolve as a person with each song,” he says.
When we ask him between live shows, film music, and albums, what gives him the most amount of satisfaction as an artist, he says, “It has to be live shows. The thrill and high of making music in front of a live audience is something else. It cannot be rivaled with creating music in a studio – you’ve enough and more chances to rectify when you falter. But on a live show, ek baar jo teer nikal gaya, to bus nikal gaya.“ (Once the arrow has left the bow, it has left.)”
What does he feel about the recent decision from the Indian entertainment fraternity to ban all Pakistani artists from performing, or contributing in Indian films? After all, he isn’t new to controversies. In the past, his concerts in India have been canceled due to political reasons.
He says: “Art should always unite, never become the reason to divide. Yes, you can impose a ban on an artist and stop him from coming to your country, but you’ll never be able to suppress the voice of an artist. If he or she is a true artist who emotes from his heart, his voice will travel far and wide, no matter the circumstances. You cannot stop music from traveling and connecting people. It carries an eternal truth with it.”
Is he hopeful of doing Bollywood songs this year? “Yes, I am. I want to. Inshallah if all goes well, I will be singing a few of them,” he says.