Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The show goes on

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan promoters assure T&T fans:


on tour: Salman Ahmad, centre back, poses with some members of the RFAK (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) band before they head to Suriname.

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ready to perform: Drummer Nadeem Ashraf; from left, Nadira Persad and Salman Ahmad of Iconoklast Ltd; singer Wajahat Ali Khan; and Sharan Singh and Keshav Singh of Iconoklast.

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Members of Iconoklast Ltd held a news conference on Wednesday at Piarco International Airport to reassure local patrons that tomorrow's show, billed as "The Ultimate Concert Experience",

featuring top Indian singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is definitely on.

They felt the need to do this due to the death of Khan's long-time manager, Chitresh Shrivastav, three days ago in a vehicular crash in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Khan and his band are also scheduled to perform in Suriname tonight. However, members of the band stopped off in Trinidad on Wednesday to hold a news conference to explain that he did not accompany them as planned as he remained in the US to properly bid farewell to his manager's body.

From there, he heads to Suriname for a show tonight, and he and his 18-member band will be in Trinidad tomorrow for the show at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, the promoters assured.

Other acts in the show, which starts at 8 p.m., are the bmobile Shiv Shakti Dancers, Neval Chetlal and local drummers.

Shrivastav and members of the Pakistani band RFAK (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) played a concert in Detroit, Michigan, USA, last Saturday and were travelling to Chicago to perform when the accident was reported at 12.52 p.m.

Police reports said the driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over several times. Shrivastav was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, Harminder Sabharwal, 36, was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital by ambulance and was said to be in critical condition.

A passenger, Maroof Ali, 33, was taken by Kalamazoo AirCare helicopter to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Michigan and another passenger, Gulam Mustafa, 33, was airlifted by Grand Rapids Aero Med to Borgess Medical Centre in Kalamazoo. Their conditions were not immediately known. A fourth person, Deepak Kumar, 43, was treated at Bronson Methodist Hospital and released.

Salman Ahmed, of Iconoklast Ltd, promoters of the show, said not even five hours had passed following the crash that Khan had to take the stage once more.

"They assumed [the others] were coming, but when they didn't answer their phones, they knew something was wrong. When they got the news, Khan wanted to go to the body. Sunday was a very emotional show. There were a lot of tears. How could you expect somebody to give his best? It was amazing, but he said he had to give the audience what they came for. Chitresh always taught him that no matter what happens, the audience comes first. In tribute to that, he sang that evening."

Ahmed continued: "One of the things which will be different in the concerts in Suriname and Trinidad is that there will be a lot of feelings and emotions. It will be very real and close to the heart."

He said: "Chitresh was very instrumental in opening the gateway of the Indian film industry for him. He was the one who guided him and was with him for seven years. Maroof was his personal manager. One is no longer there and the other is coming out of a very serious injury. You can understand how difficult it is for him right now. Many other artistes would not have cared and taken a flight back. He definitely owed a farewell to Chitresh as his body was being flown back to India."

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was born in Faisalabad, Punjab, in 1974 and is primarily a singer of Qaawwali—a devotional music of the Sufis. Some mainstream scholars of Islam define sufism as simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam. Classical scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God."

With his exceptional talent, Khan has been dubbed the "King of the Sufis".

He is the nephew of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who trained him in the classical tradition. In addition to Qaawwali, Rahat also performs ghazals and other light music. He has toured extensively and performed in Pakistan, India and around the world.

Khan is an internationally renowned award winner. Among his most recent recognitions and awards are 2010 Best International Act at the UK Asian Music Awards, 2010 Best Singer at the Bollywood Star Screen Awards and 2010 Best Singer at the 56th Filmfare Awards.

Ahmed said: "Every one of [Khan's] songs has melody and fluency in it. He has been singing since the age of seven and he's 37 now. So that's three decades of music."

He added Khan's style of music was "real singing" and "not something anyone could just get up and do".

"I think it is that fusion of blending it with Bollywood songs which is what people want to listen to."