Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ustad Faiyaz Khan, the great vocalist

Dr. K.Rohiniprasad

In the Hindi film Buzdil released around 1951, Lata Mangeshkar sang 'Jhan jhan jhan payal baaje under the baton of S.D.Burman. Around 1960 the maestro made Manna Dey sing Banao batiyan kahe ko jhooti in Manzil. The original classical numbers on which these two songs were based were rendered by Ustad Faiyaz Khan. Saigal learnt Wajid Ali Shah's immortal Bhairavi thumri Babul Mora from him and later sang it in Street Singer.

Born in 1880 near Agra, Faiyaz Khan's musical lineage goes back to Tansen himself. A posthumous child, Faiyaz was trained initially by his maternal grandfather Ghulam Abbas Khan. Originally, the Agra gharana followed the Dhrupad and Dhamar style. Faiyaz Khan added khayal singing to this tradition. The integration turned out to be excellent. Today Agra gharana includes nom-tom alap, dhamar, vilambit khayal with emphasis on bol and layakari bol-taans, inimitable grace in the pronunciation of words of the bandish, moving on to the drut khayal with gusto and fast taans.

Faiyaz Khan’s performances in darbars, conferences, private gatherings and music festivals were authentic and entertaining too. He was frequently invited to perform and received honours and titles like Sangeet Bhaskar, Sangeet Chudamani and Sangeet Saroj from the princes of Indore, Hyderabad and Mahishadal apart from valuable gifts and awards. From 1912 onwards he remained the court musician of Baroda until his much-lamented demise in 1950. He also taught in the music school, which eventually became the Faculty of Performing Arts in the M.S. University. It was a shock to the civilized world that his grave was desecrated during the recent communal riots in Baroda.

Faiyaz Khan was awarded the title "Aftab-e-Mousiqui" by the Maharaja of Mysore. He lent authenticity, dignity and grace to any bandish he presented. He became a living legend is his time, yet remained a profoundly humble human being till the end. In spite of his royal personality he was extremely humane in personal relationships. With great humility he used to remark “I know a little in this field”.

Faiyaz Khan’s style of singing may not appeal to those who enjoy soft and plaintive vocalism. He had a booming voice and a no-nonsense robust style. But he was rooted in classicism. As the sitar maestro Vilayat Khan demonstrated in one of his concerts, Faiyaz Khan’s notes sound very pure and authentic in ragas like Darbari. Such notes do not fit into the chromatic scale of a harmonium. His tone and approach varied with the nature and mood of the raga. Miya ki Todi would sound melancholy and sombre while Sughrai will be rendered in sprightly style. In thumris he was very melodious and could express the coquettishness of a maiden. His singing was very virile and loud, with a lot of power behind his taans. His tuneful voice had a rich timbre. In his time he was called a Chaumukhi Gavaiya - with great command over several genres such as Dhrupad, Khayal, Thumri, Dadra and Ghazal. He composed several compositions under the penname of Prem Piya including Baje mori payaliya in Barwa, Chalo hato jao in Sohini, Nainanso dekhi in Suha-Sughrai, Unsang in Ramkali and Sajan more ghar in Jog.

In Bombay he sang at several places including the Suburban Music Circle, Santa Cruz and inaugurated the Vallabh Ashram at Sion. Great scholars and musicians like Bhatkhande, Ratanjankar, Allauddin Khan (sarod), Nissar Hussain Khana and Thirakwa (tabla) held him in great esteem. His disciples and followers include Vilayat Hussain, Khadim Hussain, Latafat Hussain, Sharafat Hussain, Dinkar Kaikini, Jyotsna Bhole, K.G.Ginde, S C R Bhat, Dinkar Kaikini, Lalith Rao, M R Gautam and others.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The men who desecrated his grave are monsters. It shows the sheer soulless nature of right-wing politics. They claim to be sons of India, but cannot even appreciate India's classical arts. Things like this make me deeply upset.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Naresh said...

Yes, You did forget one disciple of BADE GURUJI as He was called by his Nephew and a great singer and disciple of Ustad Faiyaz Khan. He was Ustad Nanhe Khan, who later settled and died in Ahmedabad 3 years ago. Nanhe Khanji was also my teacher , Guru, who was the last singer in the lineage of Typical singing style of Faiyaz Khan. He has the voice , style and impeccable training of Bade Guruji.

Sadly, faiyaz Khanji and Nanhe Khanji both ironically died in Poverty. Faiyaz Khan towards the end of his life had to sell medals and awards to survive and recive treatment for TB.

with the Royal Patronage gone in the middle of 20th century , the artists had to struggle a great deal to survive. A very few made enough to survive.

Gulam Nabi Khan who played harmonium with faiyaz khanji died in poverty. such is the fate of these great artists. They were also able tabla, sarangi and sitar players. Their lineage is from Brabhmin singers and Musicians of Mathura untill 6 generations ago when political upheveal and survival instincts made them change their religion. Nanhe Khan was alife time Krishna Devote and a Pious Muslim at the same time.

I am deeply perturbed that some Idiots desecrated Bade Guruji,s Grave. Then again, India has been desecrated for generations and more so in past 60 years since its independence.

Slowly but surely and sadly this Great Artist tradition of so called GHARANA is disappearing.

11:24 PM  
Blogger xerses dominique said...

Even being a young man from 21st century....This legend so called Faiyaz Khan's voice attracted me.... I fell in love with this man's voice.....especially his unique scale...used think Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was the greatest till I heard him.........It is blood boiling to hear that he an Artist of his kind had to die in poverty...Sad...wherein artists of ****wood flourished like anything ....So Sad...........

9:09 AM  
Blogger Rajesh Kelkar said...


@Siddharth, I don't know your source of information about the vandalizing grave of the Great Ustad by "Right wing" politics. I am from Vadodara. The grave itself as such was never vandalized but surely the adjoining properties such as wall of graveyard, automobile repair shops etc., were attacked as a reaction to Godhra incidence. Fact of the matter is, the attackers even did not know who Faiyazkhan is...which is obvious.

The another fact is, the municipal corporation is under control of BJP-you may call it Right wing. The entire premise is very well maintained and is worth visiting. Please have guts to appreciate the 'Right wing'.

I am a vocalist and strong follower and fan of Ut. Faiyaz Khan. I do organize the yearly "Prempiya Sangeet Samaroh" in memory of Ut. Faiyaz Khan, supported by what you call the right wing.

Will wait for your comments.

Long live Ut. Faiyaz khan and his great musical legacy.

Rajesh Kelkar

8:45 AM  
Blogger Rajesh Kelkar said...

Moreover, on 8th February (Khansaheb's birthday) every year the entire team of Mayor, Dy. Mayor, Municipal commissioner, corporators of the Right wing party OFFICIALLY pays the floral tribute on his grave.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Bhai said...

Faiyaz Khan was a great vocalist and a gem of India. I wish government of India recognizes Indian Classical Music as a great tradition that needs to be preserved and carried forward as a soft power of the nation.

10:20 PM  

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