The Ustad as a Child

When Akhtaribai Faizabadi,the pride of the Cheena Bazaar kotha of Lucknow,became acclaimed thumri singer Begum Akhtar half-a-century ago,she still had an unfulfilled desire.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published:May 14, 2012 3:02 am

When Akhtaribai Faizabadi,the pride of the Cheena Bazaar kotha of Lucknow,became acclaimed thumri singer Begum Akhtar half-a-century ago,she still had an unfulfilled desire. While her artistry in ghazal had its moorings in Indian classical music,she was eager to learn from the sitar player who wrote khayal bandishes under the pen name,Nath Piya. Akhtar requested musicologist and entrepreneur Arvind Parikh,a senior student of Nath Piya,to arrange a meeting. The result was a music session that took place in an apartment on Altamount Road,Mumbai,and was recorded by Parikh. Nath Piya aka Ustad Vilayat Khan played the harmonium while humming a bandish and Akhtar followed like a student,giggling when she could not get a glide right. The public has never heard this recording,which has remained in Parikh’s collection. Now,he is sharing 25 such rare pieces in a CD that accompanies a book by him called The Glorious Tradition of Etawah-Imdadkhani Gharana.

“One of my missions was to make people aware of the traditions of a gharana. I haven’t come across any elaborate book that can allow one to know about the technical and stylistic evolution of a gharana. The recordings that accompany the book explain the points that I am trying to make. I am not a hoarder of these recordings,anybody could walk in and listen to them in my house,” says Parikh.

The CD contains 14 recordings by the legendary Ustad Imdad Khan,Vilayat’s grandfather,including a Miyan ki Todi raga played by him at a concert 108 years ago. Parikh traced this recording to the HMV offices in London. “Vilayat sahab welled up the moment he saw these. A few recordings had only been traced in junk shops earlier,” says Parikh,who learnt under Vilayat Khan for almost 40 years. One recording has eight-year-old Vilayat Khan learning from his father,Enayat Khan. The senior musician hums a tune that Vilayat tries hard to replicate but falters repeatedly. Another track is of nine-year-old Vilayat attempting Raag Bhairavi on a baby sitar. The recording is made in his house and it is interesting how,every time Vilayat fails with the tune,he returns right to the beginning for his next attempt.

The CD is not available independent of the book,so it is unfortunate that the The Glorious Tradition of Etawah-Imdadkhani Gharana is not available in bookstores. “The book is self-published and proceeds from it go to a trust for impoverished musicians,” he says. The book carries no price tag. “One can send a draft for Rs 500 and above for the book,” adds Parikh.

To buy a copy,contact: mary.braganza@lemuir.com

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