By Akanksha Gupta
Abhay Rustom Sopori is the son of legendary Santoor maestro and music composer, Pt Bhajan Sopori and Grandson of ‘Father of Music’ in Jammu and Kashmir, Pt. Shambhu Nath Sopori.
Abhay Rustom Sopori wanted to become a hockey player in his childhood and during his early twenties, he wanted to make his career in Management. Music flows in his blood and ultimately he landed into the field.
Abhay has composed music for the international award winning film, ‘Ziyarat’ and has more than 35 albums to his credit including a double CD pack titled ‘Vishudha,’ featuring duets with his father, and ‘Triveni.’ He is the first recipient of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar.
In a exclusive interview with U4UVoice, he talks about his family, music and lot more
U4UVoice: How does it feel to be part of family with a 300-year old legacy in Music?
Abhay: With roots so deep in the country’s musical scenario, it is something anyone can be proud of. Our family has contributed to the music of Jammu and Kashmir for the last 300 years. It is a great legacy and the most fortunate thing that can happen to anybody. Being able to learn music from people like my father and grandfather, is a blessing.
However, being a part of such a family comes with a sense of responsibility and duty. My grandfather, Pt. Shambhu Nath Sopori is hailed as the ‘father of Music’ in Jammu and Kashmir and my father, Bhajan Sopori is a legendry Santoor Maestro. I feel that there is a sense of responsibility in representing the Sopori family and the Sufiana Gharana.
U4UVoice: How did your journey as a Musician start?
Abhay: Being born in the Sopori family, the training started the day I was born. At a very young age, I knew everything about Santoor what people take years to learn. Hearing and watching my father when he used to practiced or play was the beginning of my informal training.
U4UVoice: We know Music flows in your blood but was there any moment when you thought of making career in a field other than Music?
Abhay: Yes ofcourse ! There were many such incidents. I used to play for state hockey team during school days and I wanted to become a professional hockey player. As I grew up, I took up commerce as my subject in college since I wanted to make my career in management. My father never emphasized upon me to get into music but my mother always wanted me to continue the family legacy.
It was in college when I finally decided that I will become a musician like my father and grandfather.
U4UVoice: Do you remember your first stage performance?
Abhay: I don’t remember actually. I started performing on stage at a very early age for school and DD Kashir’s progammes but I remember that I was in class 2nd when I was chosen as a part of my father’s grand quire of 7000 voices. This was back in the year 1986.
U4UVoice: What is your take on the music genres like heavy metal, trance etc?
Abhay: If it makes sense, it is wonderful. If it doesn’t make any sense, find the nearest exit gate and run.
U4UVoice: What is your personal favourite genre as a listener?
Abhay: I like listening all kind of music which sounds good to ears.
U4UVoice: Tell us something about your program ‘SaMaPa Aalap Festival’
Abhay: ‘SaMaPa Aalap’ is an annual Classical, Sufi and Folk music festival. It is a 10-year old baby now and is recognized as the premier music festival of state and one of the biggest music festivals of the country as well.
In the past 10 years, the festival has crossed a total audience of 50 thousand and helped me a lot in changing the music scenario of the state.
U4UVoice: Who is your inspiration as a musician?
Abhay: My father and my grandfather. If I will be able to do even 10% of what they have done in their lives, I will consider myself as the World’s greatest musician.
U4UVoice: You have lived in Kashmir for a while. Would you like to comment of its current scenario?
Abhay: Kashmir is not just militancy-infested. There lies a lot of richness within. What we all need at this point of time is to give our youngsters, a space to flourish.
Music has a huge power, I have seen people dropping guns and turning to music. The state government needs to frame policies to divert the youth towards Art and culture.
U4UVoice: Is there anything you don’t like about music?
Abhay: Politics. It has seriously infected and even damaged the musical scenario of the state.
U4UVoice: What do you like the most about Jammu and Kashmir?
Abhay: It is my home. It has given me a sensibility to understand the minorities of life.
U4UVoice: How is Abhay Sopori at home?
Abhay: A simple and introvert guy who loves to spend time with his two little nephews