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Shafqat Amanat Ali rocks the music world

Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali tells Deepali Dhingra why his third solo album, Muh Dikhai, will appeal to every listener

A couple of years ago, when Shafqat Amanat Ali recorded for composer Saleem Merchant, the latter lovingly nicknamed him 'Rockstar Ustad'. And there's a story behind it.

Shafqat Amanat Ali
Shafqat Amanat Ali 

"Nagesh (Kukunoor, the director of Dor), had informed him that I would record for the song, Yeh Hausala," Amanat Ali recalls, speaking to us over the telephone from Delhi, where he was recently recording. "Salim was expecting a guy in a kurta-pyjama to walk in, but I walked in wearing my trademark T-shirt and jeans. Later, he sent me a note saying that my work and my looks commanded the moniker, Rockstar Ustad," he adds.

Solo sojourns
After releasing Tabeer in 2008 and Kyun Dooriyan in 2010, the Patiala gharana singer's third solo album, Muh Dikhai, is all set for release next week. With nine songs infused with many facets of love, the musician says the compilation will appeal to everyone. Since the album is releasing after a gap of five years, the musician says he didn't want to experiment too much with the compositions.

"When you have an album releasing after such a long gap, there is a lot of pressure from fans to give them what they like. Thankfully, this album isn't pigeonholed in a particular genre. We have tried to present a bouquet of different thoughts, melodies, ideas and lyrics," he adds.

Experimenting with sounds and lyrics is something Amanat Ali confesses, he loves to do. And for that, he's grateful that he's no longer a part of a band. Years ago, the singer was the lead singer of the Pakistani band, Fuzon, but went his own way later.

"Often, when we had a difference of opinion about a composition, the rest of the band felt that they would lose younger listeners if we risked it. However, I put my foot down when it came to the lyrics of Aankhon Ke Saagar," recalls Amanat Ali. The singer says he finds it much easier now to compose songs and write lyrics as he's not restricted by such barriers and fears. "Now, when I compose music or write lyrics, I take feedback from some of my close friends about them, but that's about it," he says.

India on his mind
The classical singer is among one of the most sought after singers from the subcontinent, especially when it comes to Bollywood. No wonder he has worked with some of the leading music composers in the Hindi film industry today, lending his voice to songs such as Main Nai Jaana Pardes (Tevar), Dildaara (Ra.One), Teri Jhuki Nazar (Murder 3), Phir Le Aaya Dil (Barfi), Bin Tere (I Hate Luv Story) and Tere Naina (My Name Is Khan) among others. The musician shares a great camaraderie with Shankar Mahadevan, as the latter introduced him to the Hindi film industry with Mitwa from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kahna.

Ask him whether he has a wishlist of people he wants to work with, and the singer refuses to divulge names. "A singer is always greedy for good melodies and songs. As long as I get those, I will feel honoured," says the musician.

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