We are from Telangana – Salil Bhatt ఏప్రిల్ 26, 2010Posted by Telangana Utsav in Art, Culture, Essays, Hyderabad, Identity, Telangana.
Tags: Jaipur, Music, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
We are from the Telangana region: Salil
Jemima Margaret Eliot, TNN, Apr 27, 2010 Times of India
“Every time I come to this city I come alive. There’s a spring in my footstep and the vibes are positive,” an upbeat Salil Bhatt says, before he goes on stage. That’s perhaps because he traces his roots to this region. “We belong to Andhra Pradesh. We are from the Telangana region. About three-and-half centuries ago my ancestors migrated from here to Jaipur at the invitation of Maharaja Raja Sawai Jai Singh I,” says Bhatt, who goes on to add that his grandfather even went by the name Manmohan Bhatt Telang. Coming from a family of poets, lyricists, vocalists, dramatists, musicians, priests and spiritual advisers to royalty, it’s no surprise that music comes naturally to Salil.
“I don’t believe in the 10-14 hour riyaaz. For me, two hours is enough,” says Salil, who often would be pulled up by his father for not dedicating that many hours as his other students would. “He’s a firm believer that when one enjoys one’s craft the outcome is more beautiful, otherwise it’s a ‘laboured’ performance,” he says.
Working under a tough guru like his father seems to have its benefits. “Every time I perform with dad (Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt), which is not too often as we are busy with our different schedules, I have this edge-of-the-seat feeling … almost like a challenge … that I’ve got to be at my performing best to make my presence felt.” Watching the father-son duo perform with their inventions — the Mohan Veena and Satvik Veena, respectively, is a rare treat, but still might not excite the aam janta as Salil says on a jocular note, “Except for Bollywood and cricket, nothing else matters in the country”.
“When my album Slide to Freedom 2 was nominated for the prestigious Juno Awards (popularly known as the Canadian Grammy), no one here seemed to think it was important, on the other hand, worldwide I did around 120 interviews. Our album was recorded in Ashcroft near Vancouver by renowned recordist Miles Wilkinson and we got a 4 star rating,” says Salil, who collaborated with Canadian Blues legend Doug Cox to bring out a unique synthesis of Blues with Indian classical. The album features a galaxy of musicians including Dinah Di bringing Jazz Bass, John Boutte singing Funk and Soul, Ramkumar Mishra on the tabla and Michael Wrycraft joining in for gospels, among many others.
As we talk, some interesting asides crop up. Recalling his tour to Germany with former president APJ Abdul Kalam, he reveals that Kalam plays the Saraswati Veena and he goes further back in time during his school days when he turned a jazz drummer out of sheer teen rebellion for four good years and his college days when he cleared the Indian Military Academy, but couldn’t continue the training as getting up at 3.30 am was not something he aspired to do on a daily basis!
Cut to the present, he revels in the fact that his house is always full of music, thanks to his 12-year-old son Satvik who plays Celine Dion, Elton John, Beethoven and Mozart on his synthesizer. “I’m moved to tears when he plays Elton’s numbers, he puts his heart and soul into it,” he reveals.
What about Bollywood music? “I do listen to it, especially when I am driving. Right now I am listening to Kurbaan Hua with its lively rock beat and Shukhran Allah which is a soft and soothing number,” he says. Humming the tune with practiced ease, he says that he never listens to classical music when he drives. Reason? “It’s not car music,” he jokes and adds that when he’s listening to classical music he “just can’t focus on any other thing”.
Before we wind up, we ask him if his whole family is still gung ho about Priyanka Chopra and he replies, “These days it’s Katrina and Deepika Padukone!”