Watch Isheeta Chakrvarty Reimagine Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on ‘Mustt Mustt’
The Mumbai-based fusion artist teamed up with pianist Anurag Naidu, drummer Dhir Mody, bassist Nathan Thomas and the Seven Islands String Quartet
Weddings, film soundtracks, folk concerts and even pop artists all love “Dama Dam Mast Qalandar,” which notably inspired “Dam Mast Mast” by qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in the Nineties. Mumbai-based fusion artist Isheeta Chakrvarty says despite the huge legacy of Nusrat, she only tuned into his music a few years ago.
Like many, “Dam Mast Mast” remained a favorite for Chakrvarty, who sang it often. Last year, on a trip to the Star of Asia festival in Almaty, Kazakhstan, she performed a jazz/neo-soul/R&B version with her band. Comprising keyboardist Anurag Naidu, bassist Nathan Thomas and drummer Dhir Mody, the group and singer were pumped enough about the rendition to head into Island City Studios in Mumbai to record it. She says about her choice of song, “I know Indian music is done in a particular way and qawwalis are sung in a particular way, but I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like to change the clothes a little bit, not entirely dilute the essence of the qawwali necessarily.”
Chakrvarty’s version, “Mustt Mustt,” is a buoyant blend of jazz and R&B, aided by the Seven Islands String Quartet’s sublime violin, viola and cello backing. The singer agrees that “melody is king” but the song lent itself to a few sonic experiments. Recorded a year ago, Chakrvarty says she was holding on to the release for a while due to “a lot of back and forth on the sonic arrangements.” She adds, “The most important thing for me was about being honest about the song. It can’t be ego-driven.”
Watch the video for “Mustt Mustt” below. Isheeta Chakrvarty performs at The Little Door, Andheri in Mumbai on October 22nd. Event details here.