Yoshika Sangal | May 17, 2016
A classical singer from Patiala Gharana, Begum Parveen Sultana has captivated many with her voice. Born and brought up in a small town Nowgaon of Assam, she gave her first stage performance at the age of 12 in 1962 and soon after became a popular face of Hindustani classical music. Beyond live concerts and performances, she has sung for films like Pakeezah, Razia Sultan, Gadar, Kudrat and Do Boond Pani. She was awarded the Padma Shri (1976), Padma Bhushan (2014) and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1999). She is married to classical singer Dilshad Khan. The couple has given over 700 concerts in India and over 400 international performances.
Person who inspired me: My father, late Ikramul Majid. Because of him I am here today. For me, he is the pillar.
My favourite author: Kahlil Gibran
My childhood: As a child, I met many musicians who were my father’s friends. They used to gather in our house and sing. At that time there were no differences unlike today. One could not identify who was a Muslim and who a Hindu. I was born and brought up in an atmosphere full of music.
When I met Dilshad Khan: I met him for the first time at a music festival held in Mumbai in 1972. I fell for him immediately after listening to his voice. I approached him to ask if he could teach me music. I am lucky to have him as my life partner; he’s my guru, guide and best friend.
If I weren’t a singer I would be: A lawn tennis player
My favourite place to visit: I would cancel my programmes to visit London to watch the Wimbledon games
My happiness: My daughter
Music for me: Music is my life, my ibadat (worship), my passion, and my food. If you want to kill me, take away music from my life.
My advice to aspiring singers: You have to be true to your music and respect the gift God has given you. There are no shortcuts. Genuine musicians keep practising till their last breath.
My favourite song: Lag Ja Gale by Lata Mangeshkar
My views about music reality shows: These shows don’t reflect the true music of our country. Mugging up a song, practising it a hundred times and singing it in shows is no talent. Originality in composition should be encouraged.
High point in my life: When Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar blessed me as a young singer; he called my voice as soft as a petal. Also when I cooked for Ustad Bismillah Khan, and he blessed me. I can never forget these two instances.
Low point in my life: I gave birth to our daughter after 12 years of marriage. The long gap was a tough period for me, as I wanted to be a mother.
My comfort food: Hot idlis with sambar.
My health regime: I practise yoga regularly and walk for an hour
My weakness: Diamonds
My biggest challenge: Every concert I perform is a challenge. Especially when I perform abroad, as I represent my country.
I want to be remembered as: A good human being
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