Play it again, Saif: Guitar, Sitar and now a Guembri
Friday, August 20, 2010 19:51 IST
The actor learns to play a new instrument called the guembri

Strumming the guitar isn't the only thing Saif Ali Khan rocks at. As it turns out, the actor can also learn to play other instruments in a very short time. On his Moroccan schedule for his home production Agent Vinod, he learnt to play the guembri very quickly -- and soon had local musicians dancing to his tunes!

Says Saif's production partner Dinesh Vijan, "We were shooting on the top of Mount Atlas in Marrakech. At the time, Saif and I were having lunch in a local cafe by the river when a local musician approached us and began playing a tune. After hearing it through, Saif appeared intrigued by the instrument called a guembri.

He's a guitarist and quickly learnt the tune on the instrument. Much to everyone's amusement, when Saif started playing, the musician started dancing to his tune."

Dinesh adds that the chote nawab awarded the musician with a handsome tip (in Moroccan dirhams). "Saif took the instrument, tuned a few strings and learnt the whole tune in five minutes. It was obvious that he knows his music well.

Initially, it went off-key but the musician showed him a few tricks and soon Saif was playing like a pro. The man was very happy. It has been over a month that we have been shooting in Morocco and Saif is missing his music. He's also not carrying his guitar with him. Saif knows how to play the sitar too."

The Agent Vinod unit has now shifted to Rigga in Latvia.

Saif says, "The guembri is basically like the sitar but has no frets. Frets are the separating parts on the neck of a guitar that indicate different notes."

Aaila, yeh kya!
A guembri or sintir is the main melodic instrument of the Gnawa (pronounced naa-vaa). A three-stringed long-necked lute, it is one of the most common stringed instruments found in West Africa. It is also said to be the ancestor of the American banjo.
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