Rahat Fateh Ali Khan needs very little introduction – he represents a world-renowned pedigree, a successful transition from classical to mainstream popular music – and from Pakistan to India – and a growing repertoire of hugely popular Bollywood and qawwali hits.
He was in Oxford a couple of days ago to collect a Lifetime Achievement Award from Oxford University. He performed in the 18th century Holywell Music Room – the oldest concert hall in the world – jamming with The Fusion Project (who we featured here) on a rendition of Allah Hoo. Find out more about that here.
He’s in the UK for a nationwide tour, but his performance at the O2 on the 14th of August marking India and Pakistan’s independence weekend is his only in London. The FREE pre-party at the Piazza outside kicks off at 2pm with a host of food stalls – Sri Lankan street food Kothu Kothu, Pakistani Bun Kebabs, and our favourite chef in town – Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express will be serving her delectable home-cooked Hyderabadi and Calcutta-style Indian food. BBC Asian Network’s party starters ‘Punjabi Hit Squad’ who give us one hell of a work out every time we hear their excellent mixing of Bollywood and Bhangra tunes will be spinning it from 4pm – 6pm. In short, make a full day of it.
The last time we saw Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in concert was during the heady days of Tere Mast Mast Do Nain (remember that?). That concert was a mix of his Bollywood and qawwali hits – the ratio skewed a little more towards the former than we would have liked but we weren’t complaining too much. His Bollywood star has remained in the ascendant since – with further successes with the evocative Zindagi Kuch Toh Bata for Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Jag Ghoomeya for Sultan (2016), and the smash hit Tum Jo Aaye for Once Upon a Time in Mumbai (2010).
As good as most of the Bollywood stuff is, I’ll take the Ustad’s qawwalis over it any day of the week. Below, in case you need reminding, is his version of Allah Hoo. It’s also important to mention here the late, great Amjad Sabri qawwal, who was tragically killed in Karachi last month supposedly by fundamentalist actors opposed to qawwali – we hope that the concert will include a tribute to him.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan also recently collaborated with the other giant of Pakistani sacred music Abida Parveen, for Coke Studio on a goose-bumpful rendition of Amir Khusrau’s classic Chaap Tilak, which you can see here. Below, though, is my favourite Bollywood – the dreamy Saaiyaan from the 2012 film Heroine.
When: Sunday 14 August 2016, 7pm
Where: The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX
Website: The O2
Posted by SK on 15 July 2016
Photo from the O2