Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan: Modest man, majestic voice

COMPLETE DEVOTION Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan in performance   | Photo Credit: AFP

Awards have been a constant with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. The latest is the Padma Vibhushan. The octogenarian Ustad feels blessed and humbly acknowledges, “Ye sab uski meharbani, buzurgon ki aur aap jaise azeezon ki duaon ka asar hai” (all this is due to the grace of the almighty, blessings of elders and good wishes of well-wishers like you)”.

Born in Badaun (Uttar Pradesh) on 3rd March 1931 to Ustad Waris Hussain Khan in a family of musicians in the illustrious lineage of the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana that boasts of names like Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan, Ustad Fida Hussain Khan, Ud. Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Ud. Nissar Hussain Khan and the likes, Ud. Ghulam Mustafa Khan was initiated into classical music by his father. His mother was the daughter of Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan, who was the son-in-law of Ud. Haddu Khan, the pioneer of Gwalior Gharana. Thus having the privilege of learning under the guidance of Ud. Fida Hussain Khan and his grandfather Ud. Inayat Hussain Khan, he imbibed the best of both the gharanas.

He remembers the long hours of riyaaz (musical exercise) during his childhood and adolescence that enabled him to reach the deepest depth of the lower octave to the highest reaches of ati taar saptak, meandering through three and a half octaves at ease. No wonder, he started performing all over and became a graded artiste of All India Radio (AIR) at a very young age.

Responding to the query about his work on ‘Jaati-Gaan’, mentioned in the old treatise like “Sangeet Ratnakar” of Sharangdeva , with Acharya K.C. Deva Brihaspati, he first had a hearty laugh remembering how the Acharya spotted him for this project. “He (Acharya Brihaspati) had spent a long time in Rampur, interacting with the court musicians of those days, so he knew me from the times I was a toddler. Later once he heard me when I was performing in a concert, perhaps the National Programme of Music on AIR, where he was the officer in-charge. When I took a sapaat taan encompassing three-and-a-half saptak and stood for a while on the komal rishabh, before coming to the shadja, he found that I have an inclination towards the Shrutis. After the programme, he asked me to assist him for this project because I was the only one he had come across till then, who could practically prove his point by demonstrating it by singing.”

Association with films

Replying to how he got associated with films, he remembered that first he started singing for Marathi and Gujarati films. Mrinal Sen’s “Bhuvan Shome” was perhaps the first Hindi film he sang for. Then Pt. Vijay Raghav Rao asked him to sing for “Badnaam Basti”. As a composer/singer he made waves with the Jhoola song “Jhoola kin, dara ri amraiyan…” for the unforgettable film “Umrao Jaan” by Muzaffar Ali. Who can forget the melodious Ragamala from Bhairav to Bhairavi, where one sees Rekha growing up from an innocent teenager to the beautiful young woman as the time cycle of the ragas gradually proceeds from the morning Bhairav composition “Pratham dhar dhyaan Shri Ganesh…” to mid-morning Todi “Ab mori naiya paar karo tum…”, the noon raga Shuddha Sarang “Sagun bichaaro Bamhana…” to the afternoon Bhimpalasi “Biraj mein dhoom machai aaj”, the evening Yaman “Darshan deho Shankar Mahadev..” to the midnight Malkauns “Pakrat bahiyaan…” reaching the concluding Bhairavi Bandish “Baansuri baja rahi….”. On how the idea of Ragamala came to his mind, he said that Muzaffar Ali explained to him what he exactly wanted and he thought of the Ragamala according to the time theory of the raga. “I preferred to take the traditional compositions here, since it also had to do with the taleem, the musical training of the girls.”

He was a bit hesitant to share that he had played the role of Baiju Bawra in a German documentary film shot in Jaipur, where he also sang for himself. He has sung for and composed music for many documentaries made by the Films Division, many of whom went on to win the National Award.

Apart from being a reputed vocalist of the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana, Khan Saheb is equally comfortable singing and composing the semi classical Thumri-Dadra to Sugam Sangeet and Ghazal. He is a sought after Guru as well.

Apart from his nephew, the classical vocalist Ud. Rashid Khan, many of the playback singers have also taken guidance in singing from him right from Asha Bhosle, Kamal Barot, Hariharan to Sonu Nigam and Shan. His four sons, Ghulam Murtuza, Ghulam Qadir, Rabbani Mustafa and Ghulam Hasan Khan are, of course, trained by him only..

Among his relatives the young vocalist of this Gharana, Ghulam Abbas Khan, the son and disciple of Ud. Ghulam Sadiq Khan is a great fan of Khan Saheb. He says, “I have done his hero worship right from my childhood. His music is vast abd hence he can sing the sampoorna ragas with great facility, without bothering about the challenging situations. I was inspired by his sapaat and lachchhedaar (complicated) taans of three-and-a-half saptak and tried to imitate him. He has composed first rate bandishes (compositions) sung by the musicians all over, like the bandish in raga Bhathiyar “Tarpat beeti sagri rain…”, which he has dedicated to his Guru Nisar Hussain Khan, where the antara (second half of the composition) goes ‘Nisar Piya ko kou manao, baat takat thake nain” . His Yaman bandish, “Aao Balma…”, with ‘Firat’ ki taan woven into it, is an ideal composition to season your voice.”

Soulful ghazals

On the secret of his soulful ghazal compositions, the Padma Vibhushan awardee admits that he is fond of reading good poetry. In fact, he has no other hobby except music and poetry. “Pahle Ghaliyaat ko dil se mehsoos karta hoon tab jaakar compose kar paata hoon, ho sakta hai yahi vajeh ho! (I first feel the poetry from the depth of my heart and soul, then only try to compose it. This may be the secret you wanted to know)!

A class apart

The splendour of Rampur Durbar shines forth in the music of Rampur Sahaswan Gharana. which is an amalgamation of inputs from many Gharanas. Since Ud. Inayat Khan learnt from Ud. Haddu Khan, the pioneer of Gwalior Gharana; the significant features like the ‘Thehraav’ of Gwalior came in automatically. Most of the musicians of Dilli Durbar took shelter under Nawab Rampur after the dynasty was ruined, hence the influence of musicians of Dilli and other Gharanas who adorned the Delhi court, came in. Then musicians of Awadh like Kadar Piya and Sanad Piya brought the influence of Lucknow and styles like Thumri, Dadra and Tappa. All these influences merged with the royal splendour of Rampur Darbar.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 7:05:23 PM |

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