The company's project and mission to conserve, promote, and sustain traditional folk music resonated with the Aga Khan Museum, which partnered with them to produce the three-part docuseries “Searching for the Blues.”
“Their premise spoke to the Museum’s wider goal of fostering understanding and appreciation that Muslims have made to world heritage,” says Amirali Alibhai, Head of Performing Arts at the Museum. “In this context, the idea is to search the world for artists outside of urban centres who may not be well-known and who may be playing the last instruments of their kind.”
Driving through the desert, from village to village, Ankur and Ashutosh met folk musicians who were masterful at their craft. Many had played in large groups at festivals in India; some had played internationally. Then without fanfare, they would disappear back to their homes. “People didn’t know their names, where they were going and what they were playing,” says Ankur. “In the shifting sands of the desert, we found that the blues were everywhere.”
That brief meeting 10 years ago signalled the beginning of a new chapter for Lakha Khan that has since seen him performing for audiences around the world, including at major venues in Europe and the U.S., and recording numerous albums to acclaimed critical reviews.
Footage from these international concerts is highlighted in the series, clearly illustrating that Lakha Khan’s secular music and universal spiritual message is not defined by language or geography. In 2021, the maestro received the Padma Shri Award, the fourth-highest civilian award in India. Although Ashutosh acknowledges the notable achievement in receiving such an award, "respect is still few and far between," he says.
lakha khan: keeper of india's songbook
Episode 2 features footage of Lakha Khan at home, performing songs and instrumentals that speak to the worldly and sacred nature of his music, including Hindu bhajans, Sufi kalaams, and folk songs. Fluent in five languages, he sings in Seraiki, Sindhi, Marwari, Punjabi and Hindi.
sau-rungi: hundred colours of blue
With the introduction of some of India’s next-generation musicians, the final episode grapples with the question of how to carry on and preserve a centuries-old oral and musical tradition. We meet Dane Khan, Lakha Khan’s son, who, a decade ago, was driving a truck and showed little interest in following in his father’s footsteps.
But with his father's growing prestige and frequent touring, the opportunity for Dane Khan to provide for his family while also continuing the family musical tradition into the eighth generation became a possibility.
His progress as a musician is evident in concert and home footage, where the master and his son are seen playing the sarangi side by side — a poignant and optimistic conclusion to the docuseries.