Ustad Ali Zaki Hader passes away

Ali Zaki Hader was the last exponent of the Khandarbani (Khandaharbani) style of the Jaipur Beenkar gharana of Dhrupad.

Updated - September 09, 2023 10:06 pm IST

Published - September 09, 2023 09:35 pm IST - New Delhi

Noted Rudra veena exponent, Ustad Ali Zaki Hader, passed away during the wee hours of Friday in New Delhi. He was 50.

Disciple of Ustad Asad Ali Khan, Ali Zaki Hader was the last exponent of the Khandarbani (Khandaharbani) style of the Jaipur Beenkar gharana of Dhrupad. With his untimely demise, this ancient tradition of Rudra veena has come to an abrupt and tragic end.

Hader was also a nephew of Ustad Asad Ali Khan — his mother was the Ustad’s sister. The Ustad adopted him as his son, and trained him as his principal disciple from the age of four.

Asad Ali Khan’s demise in 2011 left the young Zaki, then barely 38, in the difficult position of maintaining the tradition almost singlehandedly. It is well accepted that classical musicians, even the precocious ones, attain a level of artistic maturity only in their 40s. Ali Zaki Hader, once left bereft in his youth, would now have begun to come into his own — but fate instead left the world of music bereft.

After Asad Ali Khan’s demise, Hader continued to live in the artists’ quota flat allotted to his guru at Khel Gaon for a number of years. However, his requests to be allowed to retain it, in view of the absolute rarity of his art and the extremely limited number of students and income opportunities it could attract, were eventually denied. About a year ago, he had shifted his residence to a small flat in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar. He had also reluctantly put out a notice of sale of some of the rare instruments and other musical artefacts he had inherited, acknowledging the impossibility of maintaining them in his diminished circumstances.

He leaves behind his sister Shazia, who had been his constant companion and dedicated her life to looking after her brother, and a small bunch of grieving disciples. Other family members including his mother, Naseem Akhtar, reside in Pakistan.

After funeral prayers at a local mosque, he was laid to rest at Jamia cemetery on Saturday afternoon. Celebrated Dhrupad exponent Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar was among those who attended the funeral, alongwith Hader’s three disciples Prasad, Yogesh and Shashi. The tragedy of the divided subcontinent was reflected in the fact that his mother and other close family could not be present in person.

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