Tag Archives: Ustad Vilayat Khan

Ustad and the world of gharanas


tad Amir Khan in performance. | Photo Credit: 14dfrmeena1
tad Amir Khan in performance. | Photo Credit: 14dfrmeena1

As the late Ustad Amir Khan’s magic continues to awe listeners, various musicians claim that he was from their gharana.

Ustad Amir Khan (born on August 15) was an introvert and a man of few words, yet Khan saheb had validated during an exhaustive interview for a documentary film on him by the Films Division, “Mai Indore (gharane) ke naam se gaa raha hoon.” (I am singing under the identity of Indore gharana.)

Obviously, his unique style took a tangible, modern form very gradually; turned his listeners around as gradually and became a rage, specially in Bengal. Generations of most eminent musicians came under his majestic charm.

On a more formal ground, his disciples like Pandit Amarnath, Pandit A. Kanan, Pandit Tejpal Singh and several others also had established themselves not only as performers but also as revered gurus.

Under the circumstances, the “three-generation” stipulation too was met during Amir Khan saheb’s lifetime that was crudely cut short by a horrible car accident when he was barely 62 and at the peak of his career.

Since his magic refuses to spare sensitive souls even now, several gharanedar musicians are screaming foul and claim Ustad Amir Khan as one of them.

Ironically no other gharana faces such sharp controversy; rife with appalling stories!

But a large number of musicians, in their pursuit to serve the cause of good music, do not care to indulge in such tactical claims to attest their blue blood. Moreover, the modern era is open to different ideas, irrespective of their origin or lineage. For example, I noticed a marked change in Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar’s singing around 1998. The pristine style of this top ranking khayal exponent, equally adept at handling three major styles, was suddenly steeped in soulful depths of a slower than usual Gwalior, Jaipur or Agra pace that usually floats around medium tempo.

Asked why, Kashalkar’s answer was simple, “Everybody is singing that way here (in Bengal) and it facilitates space for more emotions.” But this was actually a slow process initiated by Ustad Vilayat Khan.

For his 75th birthday celebration his ardent fan, Jayant Chatterjee had roped in Kashalkar to sing the legendary sitar maestro’s khayal and thumri compositions.

Hailed as “Amir Khan on the sitar”, the Ustad was very close to Khan saheb who was his elder sister’s husband but things soured later.

In “Komal Gandhar” (his autobiography, compiled by Shankarlal Bhattacharya; translated by me from Bengali to Hindi; published by Kanishka, Delhi), Ustad Vilayat Khan admitted to have “spent hours of riyaz together” with Khan saheb. A photograph adorning the living room of Maharaj Banerjee, a renowned but retired harmonium player, bears testimony to this fact.

Amir Khan (born 1912) and Vilayat Khan (born 1928) doing ‘riyaz together’ leaves a lot left unspoken. So does Ustad Vilayat Khan’s indelible impression on Kashalkar’s psyche. And what a wonderful result it has yielded ever since! Furthermore, Pandit Vijay Kichlu, the erudite founder-director of ITC Sangeet Research Academy, who actually was behind the phenomenal rise of the Academy’s young students, including Rashid Khan, gave a memorable introduction while presenting him during a Sangeet Ashram event on August 10th 2007. The date signifies that it was close to Khan saheb’s birthday and the introduction, abounding with audio-clips, significantly highlighted his deep imprint on Ustad Rashid Khan’s musical thoughts.

Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta, veteran sarod maestro and an erudite analyst, also says that this extremely popular khayal singer with a golden voice is deeply influenced by Amir Khan’s music. So is young Arshad Ali Khan of Kirana gharana. They are not isolated cases. The list of Ustad Amir Khan’s followers or admirers is pretty impressive. Some greats, like Vidushi Kishori Amonkar and Ustad Shujaat Khan have openly admitted Khan saheb’s influence on their music.

Even four decades after his untimely demise, there are many such eminent musicians who avoid confessing his impact but their music reveals Khan saheb’s indelible stamp loud and clear. This style’s unmatched popularity had transcended all barriers during the short life-span of its creator. Moreover his disciples are carrying forward the legacy steeped in ‘abstract’ modernism. Eminent musicologist-author Vamanrao Deshpande saw this coming. He, therefore, acknowledged Indore as an independent Gharana in his book “Gharandaj Gayaki” (Marathi, published in 1961); and rightly so.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Friday Review / by Meena Banerjee / August 13th, 2015

Watching youth enjoy classical music heartening: Sitarist Shujaat Khan

Kolkata, WEST BENGAL :

The sitar, tabla and flute played on. And the youngsters in the crowd heard the classical ensemble in awe. Sitar maestro Shujaat Khan says it’s surprising and heartening to witness the swelling number of youths — contrary to popular perception — at classical concerts.

“If you go to classical concerts across India, you will be surprised to see the number of people under 25 who are going and listening to them. It’s unbelievable.

“Around 40 per cent people (at concerts) are under 25, and it’s a wonderful thing that they are realising that there’s something more to life than just a three to four minute song, which is also okay to listen to,” Khan told IANS here.

The celebrated musician is the son and disciple of sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan, and he belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana of the stringed instrument.

He was here to perform at the MTV India Music Summit, where a group of school and college students sat with rapt attention and appreciated the expertise, finesse and dedication of the artistes. Khan also sang.

“I’d like to reiterate what Prasoon Joshi says. Music can’t always be heard from the feet — it can’t always be for dance. It’s a good thing that they realise that you can even sit and listen to music, and enjoy it,” said Khan.

But why do most people often undermine the ability of youngsters to understand and appreciate the complexity of classical music?

“Because that’s what the job of the majority is. In the world, the majority will always go to something that’s easy, easily accessible and easily doable.

“If you go and play music on the stage for two hours, and vis-a-vis that, you do a three-minute performance, there will be a difference, right?

“So, whatever is easy for you as a listener, you’re accepting that. It’s upto you.”

He is all for more such platforms where artistes can congregrate and celebrate India’s glorious wealth of classical music.

“The more, the merrier. People are thinking about it. Gradually, literary festivals have started happening in different parts of the country.

“Music fests will also happen slowly and steadily as people will understand the need to get together and promote the cause of music,” Khan said, agreeing that the market has opened up in a big way for interanational artistes to come and perform.

Khan’s musical career began at the age of three when he began practicing on a specially-made small sitar. By the age of six, he was recognised and began giving public performances.

His album “Rain” was also nominated for the Grammy Awards.

Back in 2010, Khan had even composed for a Hindi movie titled “Mr. Singh/ Mrs. Mehta”. But now he is in no mood for film collaborations.

“I have no interest. I enjoy the more serious, longer format. I prefer that. Also, when someone offers you a film, with that, comes another offer — this is what we want you to do. So, I am not interested.”

(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of the event organisers. Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

source:  http://www.business-standard.com / Business Standard / Home> News-IANS / Jaipur – October 30th, 2017

Shujaat’s string theory


Shujaat Husain Khan. Photo: Shaju John / The Hindu
Shujaat Husain Khan. Photo: Shaju John
/ The Hindu


The sitar exponent gave lessons on music and life at a students’ workshop recently.

It is a long winding road from Chennai to Cheyyur. Suddenly in the middle of wilderness you spot a well-designed concrete patch — the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. As you drive past the main gate to reach the campus, shaped like a grand piano, bright morning rays light up the clear, vast skyline.

Walking past two huge murals at the entrance, you enter a darkened hall with the spotlight on Shujaat Khan, his fingers gliding over the gleaming sitar strings. Gentle notes, rich with classicism, cut through the silence. The young audience sits enthralled. After a brief sketch of a raag, the Grammy-nominated sitarist talks endearingly, in flawless English, about his experience, experiments and the trials and triumphs of being a musician.

The session, part of a two-day camp on Indian music is no sombre class. Shujaat, son of maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, is at his wittiest best interacting with the youngsters. He encourages them to ask questions, express their opinion and even invites two of them to join him on stage.

“I was born into a family of musicians. If I didn’t do this there wouldn’t have been any option because I was bad at everything else. I loved driving but I thought I couldn’t make a living out of it. The only thing I was slightly good at was music,” he says sipping coffee. “But it’s not easy to make a career in music since there are few people who can judge between ordinary and outstanding.”

Like most celebrity children, who struggle to forge an identity of their own, it was an emotional quest for Shujaat to reach out to his famous father and try to live up to the Imdadkhani gharana legacy. “Even today it is difficult to step out of the shadow of greatness. Being the son of a legend is more pain than pleasure. The pleasure part is only music. People are not ready to forget whose son you are. The comparisons are heart-breaking. I did not come into music because I was Ustad Vilayat Khan’s son. It was because I enjoyed it. Today I have nothing to complain about though. The world has given me everything, more than what I deserve,” he says recalling the rocky road to acceptance.

Does he emulate the way his father traversed the depths of a raag, a student is keen to know. “I have no illusions of being a genius like him. But the purpose of pursuing music is the same — to feel the intensity. You should allow the different emotions to come through the swars. Every journey is difficult. I am not the kind of person who likes to focus only on the unhappy moments. It wasn’t easy to get a nod of approval from my father yet I mustered the courage to go my way.”

“Your father was a purist but at the same time rebellious. Do you see those traits in yourself,” is the next query. “The apple doesn’t fall far,” laughs Shujaat. “In fact most of you are rebels. Your parents might have wished that you become engineers, doctors or chartered accountants. But you have decided to follow your heart. If that is being a rebel, so be it. I have always let my son and daughter make their decision and take responsibility for it. If I had become a clone of Vilayat Khan nobody would have respected me. I have the genes, but I also have my own musicality.”

He says he is unaffected when people misunderstand his idiosyncrasies and outspokenness. “For instance, I am not ready to treat artists as gods. I do not want the next generation to think of me as more than human. I am not. I want them to know they too can achieve what I have. If you take away the sitar from me, I am nobody,” he smiles and then looking at the photographer clicking away, says, “Listen bhaisaab, I am not Madhuri Dixit…” Continuing the conversation, he says, “You know some musicians keep complaining about the reign of Bollywood music. Classical music is not for the mass. It is chamber music. You cannot expect every youngster to listen to it. Let us encourage those who show interest. There is nothing to be pessimistic about the future of classical arts. It will continue to thrive the way it has for centuries.”

A participant then asks him, how should one collaborate without diluting musical values? “Diluting is not the right word,” he points out. “What you need to do is to step out of your comfort zone and find a meeting point.”

Introducing the students to raag Khem, the honeyed tone of Shujaat’s sitar brings out the inherent flavours of Hamsadhwani and Yaman in it. “Never rush through a performance. Very often you hear musicians trying to create excitement right at the beginning by indulging in something dramatic. Build up the tempo slowly,” he advises.

When he is not performing, Shujaat takes off to the mountains. He loves to observe the changing hues of Nature. “My tryst with taal and raag is at a very personal level. Beyond that nothing else matters. Not even awards or titles. Love of the audience is enough. ‘Jo tammanna bur na aaye umra bhar, umra bhar uski tammanna kijiye’ (you spend the life chasing that one desire that is not fulfilled).”

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review > Music / by Chitra Swaminathan / July 14th, 2016

Tribute to Tabla Maestro Brings Stalwarts to Bengaluru

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :


Bengaluru :

A musical evening on February 27 marks the birth centenary of one the world’s most renowned tabla players – Ustad Shaik Dawood Khan.

This event, at the Palace Grounds, is organised by the Tabla Nawaz Ustad Shaik Dawood Trust.

Shaik Dawood Khan (1916-1992) is regarded as one of the greatest tabla maestros of his time, and was the torch bearer of the Farrukhabad, Ajrada, Lucknow, Punjab and Delhi styles.

As part of the centenary celebrations, the trust has organised concerts across the country. In December 2015, a two-day festival took place in Hyderabad. A second season began in Hyderabad on January 7 and 8, 2016.

The Bengaluru event is the third in the series.

Varied Journey

Ustad Shaik Dawood Khan is known as the ‘Thirakwa of Hyderabad’. Between 1926 and 1990, he accompanied hundreds of vocalists and instrumentalists, with equal respect and admiration, irrespective of their age or rank.

Shaik Dawood Khan was born on December 16, 1916. He was attracted to music from a very tender age, and his father Shaik Hashim took him to his neighbour Ameer Qawwal (a performing artist) from whom Shaik Dawood gained knowledge in singing and playing the tabla.

When he was nine, he became a formal disciple of Ustad Khasim Saheb of Sholapur, who had attained fame in the region as a tabla accompanist. During eight years under him, Shaik Dawood Khan emerged as a musician in his own right. Subsequently, he learnt from Ustad Alladia Khan, a Hyderabadi tabla nawaz, as also from Ustad Mohmmed Khan, Ustad Chote Khan and Ustad Jahangir Khan.

At the age of 46, when the whole music world was at his feet, Shaik Dawood Khan had the humility to become a disciple of Ustad Mahboob Khan Mirajkar.

Shaik Dawood Khan had accompanied almost all the greats of his time – Ustad Abdul Kareem Khan, Ustad Fayyaz Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Abdul Haleem Jaffer Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar and illustrious women  vocalists such as Roshan Ara Begum, Girija Devi, Begum Akhtar, and Gangubai Hangal. In fact, Shaik Dawood had the unique distinction of having accompanied four generations of artistes.


Shaik Dawood Khan was honoured with the Hindu-Muslim Unity Front Award in 1975. In February 1992, he was presented the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award. He was a star attraction on Deccan Radio run by the Nizam, which subsequently became All India Radio, Hyderabad.

At Palace Grounds

The musical evening on Saturday begins with a tabla homage by Sarfaraz Ahmed, grandson of Ustad Shaik Dawood, followed by a tabla ensemble featuring Ustad Shabbir Nisar (son of the ustad) and Abhman Kaushal (USA), Uday Kumar, Mihir Kallianpur and Roopak Kallurkar.

This will be followed by vocal music by Vidushi Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar. The grand finale is a sitar session with Ustad Shahid Parvez accompanied on the tabla by Pandit Anindo Chatterjee.

5.30 pm, Palace Grounds, Gate 4. Entry free.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by Express News Service / February 27th, 2016