A style as intriguing as the name

The Bhendi Bazaar gharana was founded by three brothers staying at the Mumbai marketplace

January 04, 2018 04:02 pm | Updated 04:02 pm IST

 Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar

Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar

Bhendi Bazaar gharana is named after the famous Bhendi Bazaar in Bombay which is next to Nall Bazaar and Imam Bada. It houses Wazeeria Hotel, once the hub of Qawwals, including the famous Aziz Nazan, who is remembered for his unforgettable ‘Chadta Suraj dheere-e dheere, dhalta hai dhal jayega’ and ‘Jhoom barabar jhoom sharabi.’

The others who strode the world of Qawwali were Abdul Rahman Kanchwala, Habib Painter, Abdur Rahman Nazan, Majeeb Shola, Shankar Shambhoo, Rani Roop Lata, Ibrahim Iqbal, Ismail Azad, Usuf Azad, Hanif Agra Wale, Hameed Jhansvi, Jani Babu and Munna Shaokath Ali. Also known for the dargah of Hissammuddin Sufi Abdur Rahman Baba.

At the end of 19th century, the first generation of the Bhendi Bazaar Gharana was known by three brothers, all of them vocalists who came from Bijnor, Moradabad District, Uttar Pradesh.

A land of poetry and music, Moradabad is also the birthplace of revered Urdu poet Jigar Moradabadi. The three brothers Chajju Khan, Nazir Khan and Khadim Hussain Khan learnt music from their father Dilawar Hussain Khan as well as Inayat Hussain Khan of the Sahaswan gharana.

It is believed that Inayat Hussain Khan learnt embellishments such as paltas, taans, phirats and zamzamas from Haddu Khan (Gwalior Gharana); techniques that were only known to those belonging to the Qawwali tradition. They were popularly known as the “Qawwali Bacche.”

The Inayat Khan connect also establishes a link with Miyan Tansen, as Inayat Khan studied under Bahadur Khan, who in turn was a disciple of Tansen. The Bhendi Bazaar trio was also taught dhrupad-dhamar by Ustad Inayat Khan Dagar. Breath control and merukhand (building of swara phrases in the pyramid pattern) was diligently cultivated. (Musical Heritage of India - Lalita Rama Krishna.)

In praise of Siva

Chajju Khan was a fakir and composed several compositions under the pen name Amar Muni. Ustad Aman Ali Khan, son of Ustad Chajju Khan, was a major exponent of this Gharana in the 20th century. He dedicated many of his compositions to his father under the same pen name.

It is interesting to note that many compositions of this gharana were in praise of Lord Siva. Anjani Bai Malpekar was another well-known musician of this gharana. She was a disciple of Ustad Nazir Khan and the Guru of Kishori Amonkar.

The intermingling of the gharanas and the imprint that their styles left on the gayaki of the succeeding gharanas is huge. While Baroda Abdul Karim Khan Sahib of Kirana gharana made an indelible mark on the gayaki of his gharana with his khatkas and murkis, Aman Ali Khan of Bhendi Bazaar had a special knack of using the khatkas and gamaks from the Carnatic style.

He was a gifted composer and the beautiful khayal composition in Raga Hamsadhwani – ‘Lagee lagan satee patee sang’ and ‘Jai maat, vilamba taja de’ are imputed to him. ( Living Idioms in Hindustani Music by Pandit Amarnath.)

His was the Merukhand style — a mathematical ordering of notes through which thousands of taans, as many as 5,040, are possible in seven notes. His virtuosity came through in not just singing a variety taans and sargams, but also in his perfect enunciation and bringing out the literary beauty of the bandish. Akaar helped in articulation and in correct placement of the notes. Aman Ali originally adopted the vilambit style but later sang more in the medium tempo as the first one was hard to sustain due to his ill health.

The clear note intonation and word articulation are used in badhat and sapat taans and gamak taans along with midhs, a characteristic feature of this style of singing. Ustad Amir Khan, a doyen of the Kirana gharana, known for his danedaar taan was much influenced by this style.

Shiv Kumar Shukla and Ramesh Nadkarni are the disciples of Ustad Aman Ali, however his most well known disciple is the legendary playback singer, Lata Mangeshkar. Her vigorous training in the classical idiom gave her voice control over melody as well as modulation.

This gharana indeed has a bearing on the khayal singing today, as the most distinctive aspect of this gharana is the presentation of khayal with an open voice, the hallmark of the present day singers.

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