Mission Delhi – Salma Sultan, Jangpura
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Salma Sultan hasn’t changed at all, down to the famous red rose tucked gloriously in her bun.
The famous Doordarshan newsreader stopped reading TV news back in 1997. These days, she plays a Yamaha synthesizer.
The Delhi Walla is in her drawing room in central Delhi’s Jangpura. Her son, an income tax officer, lives elsewhere in the city, and her daughter is a choreographer in New York.
Wearing a blue khadi silk sari paired with a black blouse, Ms Sultan is playing the tune of the ghazal ‘Hotho se choo lo tum, mera geet amar kar do’ from the film Prem Geet. Her fingers are moving across the keys like a small bird hopping across the branches of a tree.
Is there a Salma Sultan concert soon?
“Nahin, nahin, nahin,” Ms Sultan exclaims. “This is only for myself!” She’d started learning two years ago “just as a way to pamper myself.”
The electronic synthesizer suddenly stops producing sound (oh no, another power cut).
Settling down on the sofa, Ms Sultan explains that she usually plays the synthesizer when she is alone — this is a rare one-time treat for us. “Music is like sadhna (prayer) to me… when you concentrate, you become one with the art. Each time I feel sad or if I’m very happy, I sit down to play the synthesizer and try to think of nothing else but what I’m doing at the moment. It’s very calming.”
The power comes back. Ms Sultan turns towards the synthesizer again.
[This is the 135th portrait of Mission Delhi project]