Poems by Maulana Rumi, Kabir, Amir Khusro, Iqbal and some Kashmiri Sufi poets like Samad Mir, Shamas Fakir, Naime Saib, among others feature prominently in his compositions and songs.
SRINAGAR — Aqib Assad, 22, is best known as ‘little master’ for his richly textured rendition of Kashmiri ghazals written by various Sufi poets. He says his dream and primary ‘mission’ is to popularise Kashmir’s Sufi music across the borders.
“My aim is to take Kashmir’s Sufi music to new heights,” says jubilant Assad, “I never had any interest in medicine or engineering. I only aim to make it big in music and serve my society. I feel incomplete if I don’t prepare any ghazal or sing any new numbers,” Assad says.
Born and brought up at Badipora village of Indian administered Kashmir, Assad was the winner of Kashur Idol, a talent hunt program held a year back. The event was organised by department of tourism in collaboration with private radio partner, Big 92.7 FM, at Sher-e- Kashmir International Convention Centre, (SKICC). The festival showcased local and folk talent alongside other artists from northern states of India. Soon after winning the Kashur Idol show recently, Asad was jubilant at getting a rousing welcome at his native place. However, next day, the ‘little’ artist was kept waiting for hours together outside main gate at SKICC for not possessing an invitation card. He blamed both the organisers and the government for disrespecting the art and artists across Kashmir.
“I was supposed to be present in the function after the very next day of winning the title. I was embarrassed and disrespected,” Assad says.
Assad, who sang a Sufi number at the event, said he enjoys reading poetry and singing songs based on them. Poems by Maulana Rumi, Kabir, Amir Khusro, Iqbal and some Kashmiri Sufi poets like Samad Mir, Shamas Fakir, Naime Saib, among others feature prominently in his compositions and songs.
“My aim is to take Sufi music to the common man,” he says.
Asked whether he likes folk music, he says Kashmir is a unique place with its ‘extra-unique’ folk artists who always mesmerised him. “I selected the poems closest to my heart and prepared a bouquet of songs for the audience,” he says.
Born on February 4, 1994, Assad has travelled widely, representing his state as a child artist in various prominent events held across India. Assad has toured many states of India, especially, Maharashtra and New Delhi, and won accolades for his soulful singing. He is currently pursuing BA in Arts from Amar Singh College in summer capital, Srinagar.
“There are very few opportunities for artists and professional here. So the amount of hard work is higher, while as outside, people appreciate you, listen to you and then you get ample opportunities,” he says.
“I don’t want to sing endlessly. I might sing one or two songs, but they should be masterpieces. I avoid offers to sing vulgar songs and feel no joy in singing mediocre numbers,” says the little singer, who has won many awards from school, district administration, state, and Pune based organisations.
While Assad says he wants to simplify the difficult Kashmiri or Urdu poetry in his compositions which he will sing for the masses, his father, Assad Anjum, who is also a top artist in Kashmir, was the first source of inspiration for little Assad.
“My father has shaped me into a presentable singer. I have many roads to cross yet,” he says.
Assad was introduced to music at an early age, as his father would do ‘riyaz’ (practice) and he never stopped. “I am proud father,” says Assad Anjum, 50, “Initially he started learning ghazals and bhajans but found true satisfaction when he came across Sufi music.”
“Sufi music is usually sung in praise of the Almighty. I feel a strong connection with God when I sing Sufi songs,” Anjum says. He claims that he can easily emulate the voice and style of any Ghazal singer.
Assad’s entry into the Doordarshan-sponsored reality show, Milay Sur, made him gain more interest in the world of music. His friends say wherever and whenever little Assad sings, he captivates the minds and souls of his listeners with his voice. “Fortunately, I have had a family that has always stood by me. From the very beginning, they’ve taken time off their work to take me to singing contests. When I figured at the top league of Milay Sur, everyone expected me to immediately get a lot of work. But I knew this struggle would be hard and I needed patience,” he says.
However, he says, while he was liked by many veteran singers of Kashmir and New Delhi, but it was never an easy task to land into a film song. “Although I did many live shows with the best names from the music industry, but, I am still locking for the big break, locally as well as nationally,” he says.
Many Kashmiri youngsters have made to the Bollywood and made name and fame for themselves and for Kashmir. An ordinary boy from the congested Kooli Pora area of downtown Srinagar, Qazi Touqeer (QT) became a celebrity after winning Fame Gurukul show in 2005.
The story is from the print edition of Nov. 30 to Dec 6, 2016.