One of the reasons that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is one of the most renowned ghazal and playback singers of Bollywood, is that he was fortunate enough to learn from the finest. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who was a legend in his own right and era, taught Rahat. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tutored Rahat Fateh Ali Khan since an early age and Rahat is arguably a fine protege of the legend.
However, during a recent interview, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan recalled how he used to be petrified of his uncle, when a young Rahat used to sit and learn the art of singing from him. Remembering the sessions he had with his uncle fondly, this is what Rahat Fateh Ali Khan said:-
“I have tried to inherit his gaayaki (style of singing). He was a very quiet person, and he had all his conversations via singing. This quality is one of my fondest memories of him.Harmonium or gaayaki ko chodke unka aur koi shaukh nahi tha (he didn’t have any other interest besides playing the harmonium and singing).”.
And then he came to the part where Nusrat asked him to demonstrate his talents to which Rahat often got cold feet.
“Bahut khaufnaaq mahaul banta tha (it used to be scary). After he would sing a line, he would ask me to repeat, and I used to get petrified. But he always appreciated my work. He was very strict when it came to music. Whenever he was angry with someone, he would not talk to the person for weeks and months,” he says.
Rahat was speaking on the occasion of Teacher’s Day in India. He also spoke on the challenges and expectations he had to face, as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s successor:-
“It made things even more difficult for me. Agar fankar saccha ho, to uske fans bhi sacche hote hain; aur agar fans sacche hon, to woh kisi aur fankar ko accept nahi karte (if an artiste is honest, he or she will have loyal followers, and they don’t follow anyone else easily).”