He creates magic through his Sarod and she has enthralled the young and the old alike through her Bharatanatyam recitals. Yes, we are talking about the power couple Sarod maestro Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan and Subhalakshmi Borooah Khan. In an exclusive interview with Awaz-The Voice, the celebrated couple spoke candidly about their marriage, relationship, religion, music and various other facets of life.
IOn his interfaith marriage with Subhalakshmi Borooah Khan, who hails from Assam, Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan said he always believes that the relationship between a man and woman is decided by the Almighty.
“The Almighty God decides who will marry whom. When I first saw her performing in Kolkata, my insight said she was sent to the world by God only for me. We are very fortunate that we received blessings from all senior people. My father-in-law Parashuram Borooah, all of Subhalakshmi’s relatives, brothers and sisters gave me a lot of love and good wishes. We both believe in humanism. Our communication is through art,” the Sarod maestro said.
Amjad Ali Khan and Subhalakshmi with Carnatic music exponent M S Subbalakshmi
Subhalakshmi said, rather candidly, that like any other normal family in India, questions were initially raised about uncertainties associated with inter-faith marriage.
“But in my case, I had earned so much love from my parents that it was hard for them to say no to the proposal. Moreover, after meeting Khan sahib, my family were totally bowled over by his nature, humanitarian quality, art and many other endearing qualities. Of course, initially there were some worries that any parent face. As far my approach to religion, we believe in humanism. When you are an artist, you go to a different level of togetherness. Issues of caste, creed & religion do not hamper our life,” Subhalakshmi said.
What religion does the Khan household follow? According to Khan sahib, only humanism exist within the four walls of his home. He said music has no religion and being a musician he belongs to all religions in this world. “My audience belong to different religions,” he said.
Expressing serious concern over increasing radicalization of different religions, Khan sahab said, “Despite the spread of education, we are fighting over religion and are ready to kill each other. Radicals of any religion is a liability to the world. My late father Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan who was awarded Padma Bhusan by the then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1960,used to imbibe the idea of one God in me from my very childhood.”
Amjad Ali Khan playing Sarod on stage
Echoing her husband, Subhalakshmi said she has her own puja room and Khan sahib has his own prayer room at their house. She said all Gods exist and all festivals of different faiths are celebrated in her house. “I still remember how Eid was celebrated by my friends from all religions in Sivasagar in Assam, my hometown. Celebrating any festival is celebration of humanism,” she said.
Subhalakshmi said it is a matter of great pride and pleasure that in her birthplace Assam, religion never comes between any relationship. “The only relationship that largely exists in Assam is that of humanism and brotherhood. I hope that the tradition will continue,” she said.
On the strengths of India, Khan said “Namaskar or greeting people with two folded hands by Indians is itself a profound gesture to the rest of the world. Such gesture itself depicts humility and all-embracing quality of India as a nation.”
Amjad Ali Khan and Subhalakshmi at an award function
The couple’s two sons, Aman and Aayan, are also celebrated Sarod players. Even though Khan sahib gives all credit to his wife for giving India two more amazing Sarod talents, Subhalakshmi said she has just played the role of a mother.
“I did not do anything special for our sons. I just gave them a lot of time. They were born and brought up in Delhi. I kept their life very simple and normal. I used to tell them not to fly too high because falling down in such case is very hurtful. I groomed them to follow the religion of humanism,” Subhalakshmi said.
While Khan sahib ended the interview urging the youth of India to remain calm and tolerant to achieve their goals in life, Subhalakshmi Khan said she is always ready to serve her birth place and the country in whatever ways she can.