APP Feature By Shumaila Noreen
ISLAMABAD, (APP): Most of the parents who achieve excellence in their professional career always want their next generations to uphold their legacy and keep their name and contribution alive in the minds and hearts of the people.
However, this was not the case with the country’s highest awards achiever, Ustad Raees Ahmad Khan who spent his entire life in entertaining people with his charismatic notes of violin but never wanted his children to carry forward his legacy due to the societal taboos and of course the difficulties he endured to get recognition, acceptability and earn a respectable livelihood.
Raees Ahmad was nine years old and studying in a government school when his father Ustad Fateh Ali Khan- country’s renowned Sitar player sitting with him at very late hours asked him what he wanted to do in his life and he insisted to play violin, saying “it is the sound of violin which always attracts me”.
“It was 12:00 am at that time and I wanted to sleep after this discussion but my father ordered me to bring the old violin with only two wires available in my home immediately and start practice of basic notes (Sargam) of music. And from then onward my musical journey started”, he recalled.
“Having musical background, I grew up with all the musical instruments placed in our drawing room and listening music and practicing by the students of my father day and night so it was natural to develop an urge for learning a musical instrument”, Ustad Raees Ahmad said.
“I and my brother used to wake up at sharp 4:00 am daily to start music exercise heedless of severity of weathers, my brother was learning Sitar which requires to play in sitting position but with violin, I have to remain in standing position for hours. We started practicing music (Riyazat) for six to seven hours daily” Raees Ahmad said.
“My parents especially mother not only helped me learn music but also made it mandatory for me and all my brothers and sisters to offer prayers for five times”, he said.
Unfortunately my father could give us only seven to eight more years of guidance and then died. It was the toughest time of my life when at a very young age, I took responsibility along with my elder brother to earn and run household affairs.
He said “I started playing tunes on violin at very young age at wedding functions and ordinary functions of streets and `mohallas’ of Rawalpindi for only Rs 100 or 200 and then got an opportunity to showcase my talent in a kids programme of Pakistan Television which was a breakthrough for my career”.
The first foreign tour of Ustad Raees was to Holland for playing violin with a legendary ghazal singer, Ghulam Ali and then he visited whole Europe, Middle East, United States and played eastern and western music at all the biggest art platforms and prestigious institutions within the country and abroad.
The traits which differentiate Raees’s violin to the other violinists, according to the music maestros, is that his tunes on violin are closest to way songs are sung by the singers, he plays with heart and soul, and he is the only solo violin player in the country.
Raees Ahmad tried to keep away his three children from music due to the difficulties he faced as a musician throughout his life in search of respect, encouragement, acceptability and financial stability.
But talent and creativity cannot be suppressed and one of his sons after completing his education and starting professional career told him one day with a gloomy face, “I am doing this job in a high profile multi-national company wearing a suit and a tie for your sake and all these have no attraction at all for me”.
After listening to my son for whom it is just music that attracts him in this world, I surrendered and gave him permission to start his career as a singer and now he has earned good name in his field.
Raees Ahmad was also part of the Artists Welfare Committee formed under the leadership of former Advisor to Prime Minister, Irfan Siddiqui and he said “It was for the first time that any government (Pakistan Muslim League N) acknowledged the importance of musicians and included their welfare in their agenda through forming an artist’s welfare committee.”
“However, I don’t know what will be the fate of that committee now when a new government is yet to take the power.”
Ustad Raees Ahmad wished that musician’s role is acknowledged and the government takes steps for their welfare so that they can concentrate on their work instead of living a stressful life due to their economic issues.
Ustad Raees Ahmad Khan is the recipient of Pride of Performance award and Sitara-i-Imtiaz for two times in honour of his outstanding contribution as a violinist.