In the name of the
and composer Tafo and vocalist Sharafat
Ali Khan were given awards at the second Salamat Ali Khan Music Circle Awards
ceremony, which turned out to be a variety show writes
second Salamat Ali Khan Music Circle Award (SMC) was shared by the tabla
player/composer Tafo and vocalist Sharafat Ali Khan in a ceremony held
purpose of this award is to give due credit to the outstanding exponents
of the classical form of music thus promoting a cause being pursued by
an ever decreasing number of people in the country. An initiative of
Shafqat Ali Khan, the youngest son of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, the first
SMC award last year went deservedly to Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan.
Salamat Ali had been rewarded with most prestigious awards of the
country and his name was synonymous with khayal and thumri. After
spending his formative years in undivided India, he migrated to Pakistan
and soon established himself as the most promising khayal singer with
his elder brother Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan. The duo was to dominate the
world of classical music for the next two decades.
to the famous Shamchaurasi gharana, these two brothers actually were the
founders of their own gharana of khayal gayaki. These professional
musicians with proper lineage in the Punjab were dhurpad singers. Of the
four major schools of dhurpad in the Punjab -- Talwandi, Haryana, Shamchaurasi and Kapurthala -- their grandfather Mian Karim Buksh was a
great dhurpad singer and the flag bearer of the Shamchaurasi gayaki. But
the grandsons, Nazakat Ali and Salamat Ali, chose to switch to khayal
gayaki. They did not formally submit themselves to any ustad but the
influences were many and the most profound were that of Ustad Ashiq Ali
Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan -- the two giants of the Patiala
Gharana who dominated music, with Tawakkal Hussain Khan, one of the most
virtuosos of singers.
to many detractors this little rebellion from tradition where a formal
ustad-shagirdi nexus assumes a mystical tradition was sacrilege. These
two brothers silenced the critics with their lightning progress in this
genre. They were driven to perform at a very early age due to their
promise -- and also because of poverty. The family just could not bear
to see them not become earning members to salvage a near desperate
situation at home. They got their early training from their father
Vilayat Ali Khan, probably also benefited from the tutelage of Mubarak
Ali Khan, the Jallandhari qawwal. And they proceeded on the path of
dikhiya, sikhiya and parikhiya (to see, to learn and to creatively
assimilate) with great deal of success.
Salamat Ali Khan was blessed with a good voice which he honed with great
diligence. His real forte were the lightning taans that traversed the
three registers in a flash, and laikari, which was nearly unprecedented.
Despite all the virtuosity, there was a base of the dhurpad as they
elaborated the raag and then in the drut they astonished everyone with
their taans and subtle division of the rhythmic patterns in that tempo.
to say Ustad Salamat Ali Khan was the dominant partner. The elder Ustad
Nazakat Ali Khan had a mellifluous voice that could also traverse the
three registers, and it was he who formed the basic aesthetic tonal
pattern of the raag. One of the most difficult things in kheyal or
dhurpad is to establish this aesthetic tonal pattern (shakal) of the
raag, and Nazakat Ali Khan was very good at making a sketch, and then
Salamat Ali Khan took over and added colour by dividing, sub-dividing,
combining the variations of stress that enunciated the musical
possibilities inherent in the raag.
classical musicians who performed at the award ceremony were the recipient
of last year's award Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan, the recipients of this
year's awards Tafo, Sharafat Ali Khan with Shafqat Ali Khan and Farrukh
Shaggan has not compromised on his singing by lacing it with lighter
forms of music. He has stuck to his guns and has been singing kheyal
over these last 60 years. He has lived in difficult circumstances,
almost bordering on abject poverty till a few years ago when recognition
from abroad made him meet with the expenses of subsistence living.
two musicians selected for the award this year, Tafo has produced
sounds on the tabla which can be used in fields like background music.
His influence in contemporary music as a composer and tabla player is
due to his solid grounding in the Punjab baaj. Sharafat Ali Khan
replaced his uncle Nazakat Ali Khan when the latter ceased to sing with
his brother. He accompanied his father for almost 20 years and was
perhaps rewarded for the patience he showed in remaining steadfast in
his illustrious father's shadow.
Sharafat Ali Khan
programme was a tribute to Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and meant to be a
reminder that the glorious tradition was under threat of extinction,
there was no need to include other items in the ceremony. The singers
other than the performers of classical music were not top of the line,
and in striving for popular appeal, some classical musicians landed in a
mix up of forms, achieving precious little.
there was absolutely no need to have skits. From a programme with
serious intent its reduction to frivolity was at the cost of losing its
focal point. It became a variety programme with a bit of everything
thrown in. Ironically this attitude has contributed to the decline of
classical music which stakes its claim on purity of form. The
inter-mixing and moving from one genre to the other in quick succession
has afflicted the concentration. It runs contrary to a gradual building
upon a musical idea within the discipline of a laid down formal
structure. The audience too begins to treat the programme differently
and the restless nature of the audience is given a free hand. It was a
packed house, people moving in and out with regularity as they would do
in a variety show.