Raag Taal Gharana Dance

Bade Ghulaam Ali Khan - Patriarch of the Patiala gharana

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan  

The Patiala Kasoor Gharana’s glory can be ascribed to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, whose musical genius came to represent a style characterised by intense emotional expressions, with romance striking a dominant note. As a result of his training under his father Ali Baksh Kasoorwale and uncle Kale Khan, who learnt dhrupad from Behram khan of Jaipur, khayal from Mubarak Ali of Jaipur, Tanras Khan of Delhi and Haddu khan of Gwalior, his variegated legacy made Bade Ghulam Ali Khan the undisputed voice. Even three decades after his death, the gharana is identified with him. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, who began his illustrious journey as a sarangi artiste, was known for his effortless rendition, clear enunciation and a range spanning three octaves. The thumri ang of Benares, evolving as it did as a Punjabi ang and the tappa gamaks of Gwalior came through beautifully in his khayals.

Today the gharana bears the stamp of his gayaki. His legacy was carried forward by his son Munawar Ali Khan, whose gayaki was influenced more by his uncle Barkat Ali Khan. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan would refer to Barkat as “the magician of thumri”, though he himself was the last word in it.

Munawar’s son Raza Ali Khan alongwith Mazhar Ali Khan and Jawad Ali khan, the grandsons of Karamat Ali Khan, the brother of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, who migrated to Pakistan, kept the family tradition alive. Fateh Ali, grandson of Ali Baksh, is a Patiala gharana singer settled in Pakistan “whose voice has the richness and the mellifluousness of the founder”, according to Sandeep Bagchi (Nad – Understanding Raga Music). Another bold and beautiful singer of this gharana is Begum Parveen Sultana.

“Today’s Patiala gayaki is unmistakably the Patiala Kasoor gayaki passed on to artistes through the ganda-bandh disciples of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, such as Pandit Prasun Banerjee and Vidushi Meera Banerjee,” says Pt. Shantanu Bhattacharyya, a well-known vocalist of the gharana.

Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty, a stalwart of the gharana trained under Munawar Ali Khan and Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh. His daughter Kaushiki has emerged as a fine singer too.

Elaborating on the legacy, Pt. Shantanu Bhattacharayya brought to light how Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib’s gayaki is the synthesis of four gharanas — Agra, Jaipur, Kirana and Gwalior. The transcendental and extensive expansion of the swaras in alap was something divine in his gayaki. He further augmented it with meru khand taans of Kirana, two swar danas of Jaipur and voice structure and voice akaar of Agra and Gwalior.

Temperament of a painter

Apart from the openness of the voice, the sargams are rendered aesthetically. Akaars, bol banaavs and bolbants exhibit the temprement of a painter. Each phrase is rendered like colouring a picture — vivid with imagery. There are certain features of this gharana that surface suddenly. Taans and boltaans can intersperse the bandish, There is an element of unpredictability.

This point is also endorsed by Sandeep Bagchi in the Nad – Understanding Raga Music, “the unexpected note-combinations appeared to have been put in for effects sake, as they were not fundamental to the raga.

Adds Shantanu, “they play to the rhythm and with the rhythm. The subdivision of rhythm — the matras and mini-matras are recognised. There is an interplay between rhythm and melody — invariably, an imagery is created. The tabla bols set the pace, the bandish is presented on the tone set by the tabla.”

The singers show a penchant for pentatonic ragas like Malkauns Bhupali and Gunkali. The other ragas popular with the gharana singers are Darbari Kanhra, Ramkali, Shuddha Kalyan and Bageshree.

Some of the up and coming singers of the gharana and disciples of Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty and Shantanu Bhattacharyya are Mira Sengupta, Brajeshwar Mukherjee, Deborshee Bhattacharya, Durba Bhattacharyya, Arghya Chakravorty, Imandas and Mitra Bhattacharyya.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2021 6:27:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/the-beauty-of-patiala-gharana/article22621825.ece

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