'Fame is like narcotics'

He tried everything from mind-blowing to awesome to exhilarating, but simply couldn’t find the perfect words to talk about his experiences of ‘going live’. In a candid interview, Adnan chats with CS about success, fame and all that follows.

Who: Adnan Sami 
What: Talking about fame and humility 
Where: At his Lokhandwala residence 

A heady rush
I can describe the feeling of being up there on stage in two ways. The politically correct way would be to say that it’s the most humbling experience in the world. The more appropriate reaction is to say that it is the ultimate overwhelming sensation one’s ego can feel! (laughs). That feeling is so amazing that if you don’t have your head screwed on the right way, which is what I hope I do, you can completely go haywire. When there are thousands of fans singing your song back to you at a deafening volume and all you’re doing is playing the piano, it’s something you can’t simply explain in words.

Success is rented
I’ve been around for a long time to understand that I can’t afford to let fame and adulation get into my head. Fame and adulation are like narcotics. There are many examples in history, where fame has made people go crazy and they started thinking they were God. The first thing you should know about fame is never to take it for granted. Every achievement, album or concert, if it succeeds, I consider it a new lease. It’s like renting a house. You lease it for 11 months and if the landlord comes and sees that you’ve made a mess of the house, he will not renew the lease. The same way, you have to treat success as a lease, and not ownership.

Humble to the core
I don’t have any qualms about doing any housework. I’ve been brought up in such a way that I can live in the lap of luxury and I can sleep on the floor. If need be, I can clean my own bathroom. I went to the most prestigious British school and in the first year, they assign you to clean the toilets and wash the dirty dishes. They want to humble you to prepare you for the outside world. In Indian classical training, the Guru will make you do all sorts of khidmat, before he gets down to teaching you music. The whole idea is to completely humble you, so that you surrender yourself completely. You have to let go of all the vices, and only then you can take the next step. It’s this upbringing that has kept me grounded and I’m proud of it.  

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