The professional flute world is teeming with talent. Pune’s very own Amar Oak has been making waves in the musical industry since he was a teenager. Now settled in Mumbai owing to his growing professional commitments, he has to make special time to come to his home town for his performances. Just ahead of one such performance, ”Amar Bansi” at Tilak Smarak Mandir, we spoke to Amar about his journey so far and what makes “Amar Bansi” so special.
You conceptualised Amar Bansi, what’s special about it?
Amar Bansi is a like a treat with different flavours. Let me explain. I have 30 flutes in my set. Each flute has different acoustic properties. From the tiniest to the largest flute, I demonstrate how each flute plays out differently. You’d be surprised at some of the sounds that come from the tiniest ones. That’s the fun part. I later render a medley based on Raag Khamaaj, followed by Lavani, Natya Sangeet and even a Qawali through my flutes.
Let’s go back to the start. How did you discover the flute? Why flute?
I don’t know why flute, but I can tell you how I discovered it. My father used to learn flute when I was a toddler. I used to accompany him and eventually I did what all curious toddlers do. I picked up a flute one day and tried it. That’s it! Apparently I had a natural inclination towards the flute and picked it up easily. I gave my first performance when I was 5 ½ years old and won my first inter-school award in my 10th standard.
So how did you enter the “professional” bandwagon?
Ahh, that’s a twisty journey. Back in the 1980’s, it wasn’t easy to make your career in music when there were so many doctors and engineers doing well for themselves. I too had the same misgivings about choosing this alternate career. So I graduated in Computer Sciences, just so that I had a back door in case things didn’t work out. In fact after I visited a few friends in the US (who were all MS and had a high flying career by then), I actually thought I wanted that kind of life and did my MS as well.
You actually did your MS thinking you’ll chuck this line?
Not chuck it entirely, but not make it my livelihood, if you know what I mean. But once MS was over, I didn’t want anything to do with it. I realised music was my true calling, my life. And that’s when I started training under Sane and Bhave Guruji. I was already playing professionally by then.
Do you see any cosmopolitan audiences? Or is it only Maharashtrians?
Primarily Maharashtrian because they know me from Marathi SaReGaMa. However, ever since I started using social media to connect with my audiences, I do see an increase in the cosmopolitan crowd.
How do you manage to create original tunes? Any particular inspiration?
The tunes are in my head. Sometimes I get an idea sitting in an auto on the way home. No particular inspiration, it just comes. It’s difficult to explain.
Your views on pop culture vs. Hindustani Classical?
I think all music is art and there is place for every kind of music. Having said that, I do believe that there is no alternative to Hindustani Classical Music. It is the base of every other kind of music.
What’s the way forward for Amar Oak? Who will continue the legacy?
It is my dream to arrange a historical concert where different instruments are treated as equal and produce a mesmerising melody. Also, I plan to use “voice” as an instrument only.
My sons will hopefully carry the legacy forward. Both are musical by nature. My eldest is 9 and he sings at some of my concerts. He is also training under Ms. Aparna Kelkar.
Catch Amar Oak at The “Amar Bansi” at Tilak Smarak Mandir on 27th Feb, 9:00 pm onwards.