Singer Adnan Sami
Singer-composer Adnan Sami, whose father Arshad Sami Khan was a Pakistani diplomat and served in 14 countries as country's ambassador, says he is adaptive as a person and pleads for him to be judged by his music and not religion or nationality. He is a Pakistani turned Indian citizen.
"My father was a diplomat which is a transferable profession. So as a kid, after every three years, we would move to a new country, make new friends, meet new people and learn how to embrace various cultures. So, I think I am an adaptive person by nature," Adnan told IANS at his Andheri residence in Mumbai.
The "Lift kara de" hitmaker returned home earlier this month after finishing shows in Johannesburg, Durban and London's Wembley Stadium, where he performed for the eighth time.
"We get to interact with different audiences. And no matter which country I am in, the audience always receives me with love and admiration irrespective of my nationality and religion," said the London-born Adnan, who is of Pakistani descent and is now an Indian citizen.
"On the other hand, my baba (father) taught me that, as a Pathan, we should know how to treat everybody with equal respect. So, when I am on the stage, I should not differentiate between the audience from... say, Kanpur and Wembley. They are equal for me."
Trained in Indian and Western classical music and known for rapid playing on the piano, Adnan is popular for hit non-film songs like "Kabhi to nazar milao", "Bheegi bheegi raaton mein" and "Tera chehra".
He also sang for Bollywood films like "Ajnabee", "Saathiya", "Joggers' Park", "Lucky: No Time for Love" and "Bajrangi Bhaijaan".
Apart from performing overseas, Adnan has also explored northeast India, especially Arunachal Pradesh.
Asked if he was inspired by the folk music of the northeast, he said: "Yes, northeastern folk music influenced me from a very young age. You see, Sachin Dev Burman is one of the inspirational musicians in Indian film music. The way he fused folk music with his signature style... is amazing. So, I am aware of the beauty of northeast folk music."
He added: "Apart from music, the natural beauty, diverse cultures, people and their hospitality... mesmerised me. I have gone to many beautiful places across the globe, but I must say that the northeast of our country is the best kept secret in the world."
He received his certificate of Indian citizenship from Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju in 2016. After that step, he faced a lot of criticism from Pakistan.
Asked if that bothers him, he said: "I know people criticised my decision, but honestly, I don't care. And why should I? I am a singer. You love me or hate me based on my music. If you are judging me based on my nationality and religion, you are a racist. This is very offensive. I cannot encourage that."
Last year, he even hailed the Indian Army for conducting surgical strikes on terror camps across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. As a result, he got trolled on Twitter by some Pakistanis.
How difficult is it to be in people's good books if you are a celebrity who likes to share his opinion without fear?
"Being a public figure, you cannot make everyone happy. Some people will criticise your actions and I cannot stop expressing my opinion based on that. As far as my opinion on surgical strikes is concerned, I explained it to the media clearly.
"I always stood by my opinion and will do that in future as well. I never made any frivolous opinion and never will," said Adnan, who once weighed some 230 kg, but inspiringly shed over half of that through a combination of diet and exercise.
He is now set to begin work on an upcoming Bollywood project. "We will be announcing the project very soon. I am composing songs for that."
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at email@example.com)