Updated: January 19, 2021 8:27:23 am
The true essence of a nation lives in its arts and artists. Ustaad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, who passed away in Mumbai on Sunday aged 89, was a flag-bearer of the Rampur Sahaswan gharana. However, his contribution extended beyond the concert circuit to include forays into Bollywood, as a singer and a mentor to many of the film industry’s famed voices. The beneficiaries of his learning and training included Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, A R Rahman, Hariharan and Sonu Nigam.
Born and raised in Badaun in UP, Khan was the grandson of Ut Inayat Ali Khan, a musician in Wajid Ali Khan’s court. He trained under his father, Ut Waris Khan, and from relatives, including Ut Fida Hussain Khan and Ut Nissar Hussain Khan. While the gharana’s style was generally vigorous, Khan honeyed it with his own personal style. It was his rendering of jhoola kinne daala re in Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (1981) that made him popular. The rigour and tenderness with which Ut Ghulam Mustafa Khan presented this jhoola stood out; it captured the spirit of the monsoon season and the tehzeeb of Awadh. In fact, his concerts were representative of the Ganga-Jamuni confluence of cultures. They would often have a Tulsidas bhajan segue into a tribute to Nizamuddin Auliya or a thumri describing Krishnaleela.
Ut Ghulam Mustafa Khan wasn’t averse to film music like many of his seniors, family members and even contemporaries, and was always willing to experiment. In 2013, he sang a bandish in raag Yaman in Coke Studio @MTV, tuning into his student A R Rahman’s world of sounds. Khan puts on display, a jugalbandi alongside R Prasanna on electric guitar and Mohini Dey on the bass guitar, alchemising the raga into flesh and blood, the soaring voice going straight for the heart.
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