Classical treat: A fitting tribute to Patiala Gharana

For the first time in the history of the Patiala Gharana, three generations performed together on stage.

Our Correspondent June 27, 2014


It was a memorable soul soothing Wednesday evening. The marquee hall was packed to capacity with music buffs, diplomats, intellectuals and elite of the twin cities. Some were busy in taking photographs with one of the living legends of the subcontinent’s classical music, annoying those who had come to enjoy the evening that started two hours late.

The event “A tribute to the Patiala Gharana” was organised by Pearl Continental Hotel Rawalpindi in collaboration with FM Productions to acknowledge the contribution of the gharana to classical music.

For the first time in the history of the Patiala Gharana, three generations performed together on stage.

The event began with the Raga Boyz - Nayab Hamid Ali Khan and Inam Hamid Ali Khan - two of the three prodigious sons of Ustad Hamid Ali Khan and fifth generation of the Patiala Gharana performing Raaga Marva.

When Ustad Fateh Ali came on stage, the audience greeted him with a standing ovation. Speaking on the occasion, he said he was very happy to see people still taking interest in classical music. Giving a brief history of his family, he told the audience that his grandfather, Ali Bakhsh, was the only ustad to receive the title of “Jarnail” (general of musicians) by the then viceroy of India. He said he was proud that five classical singers from his family had received the Pride of Performance award.

Flanked by his son, Sultan Fateh Ali, youngest brother Hamid Ali and in the backrow his grandsons, Nayab and Inam, the frail ustad sang Raag Bageshri “Piya dekhan ko tarsey” and mesmerised the audience. Ustad Fateh Ali has performed all over the world and has many students.

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and his late brother Amanat Ali Khan were trained by their father, Akhtar Hussain Khan, a distinguished vocalist. The talented duo, Amanat Ali, 17 and Fateh Ali, 14, made their debut at the All-Bengal Music Conference in Calcutta in 1949. They became celebrities and achieved recognition when the President of Pakistan conferred the Pride of Performance Award on them in 1969. They drew inspiration from two elders of their Gharana - Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan.

The duo broke up with the death of Ustad Amanat Ali in 1974. Ustad Fateh Ali stopped singing for over a year. He took up singing again with his younger brother Hamid Ali and Asad Amanat Ali who died at the age of 45 in 2007.

Sultan Fateh Ali sang his family?s famous Khamaj, popularised by Shafqat Amanat Ali.

Hamid Ali Khan, an exponent of ghazal and classical singing, was at his best, as he sang popular ghazals and a thumri, “lagi ray tosay lagi”. He also presented his famous Punjabi song “Meno tere jaya sohna” which he had composed in 1976 and is still popular in Pakistan and India. He also sang some famous ghazals of late Ustad Amanat Ali Khan. Some youngsters and a lady in the audience couldn’t restrain themselves from dancing on the song.

His sons Nayab, Wali and Inam are currently following in his footsteps and have created their own band called Raga Boyz.

Hamid Ali also won the Pride of Performance Award in 2007. In 2010, he was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz. He was presented several awards for lifetime achievement in the field of classical music during his tour of India in 2007.

The singers were accompanied by a famous tabla player Ejaz Hussain.

Founded by their forefathers Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Ali Bakhsh Khan, the Patiala Gharana (stylistic lineage or style of singing) is one of the most prominent vocal classical music families of the subcontinent famous for ghazal, thumri and khayal.

Musicians of the Gharana, patronised by the royal family of Patiala state of Indian Punjab became famous for their execution of intricate taals. Ek taal and Teen Taal are most frequently chosen by members of the gharana.

Saima Khushnood presented classical dance and received applause from the audience. The Pearl Continental Hotel General Manager Sheharyar Mirza took in his brief speech highlighted the achievement of Patiala Gharana and the contribution of the hotel for the promotion of music.

Welcoming the audience, Tahir Khan Vice-President of Events, Media and Communication, Hashoo Group, who is also a classical music artist and sitar player paid tribute to the legendary singer and his family and said he was motivated by him to take up singing.

A slightly different version of this article was published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2014.


Abdulsultan | 7 years ago | Reply

How can common Pakistani people reach such musical events.? I have been many a times requesting Art Councils of Pakistan that the council must lodge a TV channel where millions of Pakistani can enjoy all such events, all events by The Art Councils and other program-mes of special arts. This will encourage many more to hold such porammes worth enjoying, I hope this massage reaches kind attention of The Councils.

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