When Hafiz’s “Raag Darbari” flummoxed President!

Mumbai: Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan said when his father Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan was honoured with the Padma Bhushan award in 1960, he had asked the then President Dr Rajendra Prasad to protect the sanctity of 'Raag Darbari'.

"The President had asked him, "Khan Saab main aap ke liya kya kar sakta hoon? (what can I do for you?). My father didn't ask for a house or a car. He was pained over dilution of Raag Darbari in some quarters and wanted the President to fix it," Amjad Ali Khan recalled here last night at the launch of his book, 'My Father, Our Fraternity The Story of Hafiz Ali Khan and My World'.

Khan said that his father's prompt reply left the President bewildered.

"We were living in a rented house then and had gone to the function in a taxi. My father could have asked for anything, but he told the President about the plight of Raag Darbari," Khan, who had accompanied his father to the function, said.

"My father told Prasad that being the President, you have to look after everything, but you have to preserve and protect the purity of Raag Darbari. My father was very happy and he later told my mother very innocently that the President has promised that he will protect Raag Darbari," he said.

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who released the book, lauded Amjad Ali Khan's contribution to Indian classical music and revealed his interest in learning the musical instrument.

"I thought of learning the sarod and I have purchased the instrument," Bachchan said and requested Amjad Ali Khan to teach him a tune or two.

Bachchan lamented that the practice of documenting our ancestors' achievements was on the decline in India. This practice is necessary to ensure our future generations learn something, he said.

"Whatever a son does for his father is never enough," Bachchan said.

Khan said he considers himself fortunate to have had a father, who was kind and compassionate. He also praised the way Bachchan took care of his parents.

Both Bachchan and Khan said they share deep family ties and that their children were good friends.