Ustad Fateh Ali Khan holds Napa audience spellbound
By S.M. Shahid
KARACHI: In the days gone by, words like ‘fusion’ and ‘workshop’ were not used in the context of classical music. But we are living in a modern age. With competition galore, and in order to lure the modern ‘consumer’, such imaginative words have to be used to make classical music more appetizing for uninitiated — or half-initiated — music lovers.
Being an ex-advertising ‘serviceman’, I call it ‘branding and packaging’ of the ancient art of classical music! Let the old masters feel uneasy in their grave; they have no idea how difficult it is to market this glorious art in the present fleeting time and competitive environment!
It was, therefore, a pleasant experience to see Napa (National Academy of Performing Arts) and Tehzeeb Foundation, a private sector organization set up for the advancement and promotion of music, literature and other fine arts in Pakistan, joining hands to host this workshop on classical music at Napa on Sunday.
To conduct the workshop, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan was invited from Hyderabad where his family elders had settled after partition. Belonging to the illustrious and respected Gwalior Gharana, famous for its open-throated style of singing and intricate taans, the Ustad very honestly said that he was a gaaek (singer) and NOT a naaek (scholar) and that his elders had taught him to SING and he had worked very hard all his life to be able to perform this wonderful art.
The Gwalior Gharana was founded by Mian Meher Buksh and the two famous brothers, Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan, in the nineteenth century. Other well-known names in this gharana are those of Nathoo Khan, Rahmat Khan, Nisar Husain Khan, Omkarnath Thakur, Ummeed Ali Khan and Manzoor Ali Khan (Fateh Ali Khan’s paternal and maternal uncles, respectively).
Fateh Ali Khan was accompanied on the tabla and harmonium by Ustad Bashir Khan, the gentle maestro, and senior musician Mohammad Afzal, respectively. Sitarnawaz Nafees Ahmad Khan, head of the music department of Napa, introduced the Ustad.
Ustad Fateh Ali Khan started off with Bhopali. He presented the bilampat in 48-matra, durut in 16-matra teentaal, also adding a Tappa in sattarkhani rhythm and tarana in fast teentaal. This raag is odo (pentatonic i.e., scale of five notes). His second presentation was an old Punjabi folk in Gauri (the raag belongs to the family of Bhairon and is sung on weddings). The third item was bandish (compositions), in raags Chayanut and Kamode, followed by a dhurupad (old classical in which taans are not allowed) in raag Soorath, and a short rendering of Poorya Dhanasri. The last item was a beautiful rendering of thumri composed in the morning raag Jogia, which, though it was evening, cast a spell on the audience comprising Napa students and a gathering of select invitees.
I hope in the coming days more programmes of this nature will be presented by Napa and Tehzeeb Foundation.