Introduction of Disciples
 

Dr. Ibrahim Ali

 

Those vocalists / instrumentalists, who took lessons in music from Ustad Amir Khan and obtained guidance in developing their gayaki, and are proud of being his disciple, their brief introduction is given here: -

[1] Pandit Amarnath [1924-1996]

Pandit Amarnath was born in Jhang, District of Punjab [Pakistan] in 1924. He was interested in music since his childhood. In beginning, Pandit Amarnath used to try to follow the vocal style of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan of Kirana gharana. Prof. B. N. Dutta, a well known singer of Lahore, was also the follower of the same style. Therefore, it was natural to desire to become his disciple. Pandit Amarnath began receiving training in music from Prof. B. N. Dutta, in 1942. The process to receive lessons from Mr. Dutta continued till 1947. Coincidently, Pandit Amarnath listened to a performance of Ustad Amir Khan on radio. At that time, Ustad Amir Khan used to sing from Akashwani Delhi. He was very much impressed by this gayaki. Despite his financial difficulties, some how he purchased a radio, and listened regularly and attentively vocal performances of Ustad Amir Khan, broadcast by All India Radio, Delhi. Because of this, the singing of Pandit Amarnath started having similarity with the style of Ustad Amir Khan. In 1944, in a music conference at Lahore, he heard live performance of Ustad Amir Khan for the first time. Since then, he desired heartedly to become his disciple. In 1947, after partition of the country, he had to migrate from Lahore to Delhi. There he tried to become disciple of Ustad Amir Khan. He used to meet him very often and after a long wait, his desire was fulfilled. In this context, Pandit Amarnath said in an interview – “In 1947, when political upheaval took place, I left Lahore and came to Delhi. Here I expressed my desire to learn music from Amir Khan Saheb. I received a straight reply from him. He told me that he did not teach any one, and that he had no time to spare. I was not frustrated by these words and continued practicing music. At that time, I used to sing from Delhi station of Akashwani. Ustad Amir Khan heard my program on radio, and coincidently meeting me, all of a sudden he said that I should become his disciple and that he would teach me singing. Hearing this, I was overjoyed and since then I have been learning singing from him.”[i] Until passing away of Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Amarnath received his guidance.

Pandit Amarnath began singing on radio in 1942 and through out his life, he used to sing for radio and television. Under the auspices of All India Program of Music, Akashwani has broadcast his performances also. On 31st January 1987, an All India program was broadcast, whose sound recording is preserved with the author. In 1949, Pandit Amarnath was appointed as supervisor at Akashwani Delhi. After eight years, he left this job and became fully active in the field of music. Also he had been Head of the Department of music at Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi, for seventeen years. Besides it, he served as guru at Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra, Delhi. He delivered lecture demonstration in several Indian and foreign Universities and Institutions. One of his lecture demonstrations was held at Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal, in 1987. In music conferences, he made recognition as a representative of Indore gharana. Although he adopted all the special qualities of singing style of Ustad Amir Khan in true manner, he did not sing tarana. He performed successful singing in 1987, in the function, which is held every year at Indore in memory of Ustad Amir Khan.

He was also a vaggeyakar [poet cum music composer]. He has created about 200 bandishes [compositions], under the penname of “Miturang”. Pandit Amarnath has given music direction in films and dramas also. ‘Papi’ [1943], ‘Dasi’, ‘Panchhi’, ‘Irada’ [1944], ‘Kaise Kahun’, ‘Dhamki’, ‘Ragini’, ‘Shirin Farhad’ [1945], ‘Jhumke’, ‘Shahar Se Door’, ‘Shalimar’, ‘Sham Savera’ [1946], ‘Mirza Saheba’ [1947], ‘Rooprekha’ [1948], ‘Ek Teri Nishani’ [1949], ‘Garmkot’ [1955’, ‘Mirza Ghalib’ [Documentary] etc, were the films wherein he had been music director. In the film, ‘Garmkot’, and documentary, ‘Mirza Ghalib’, his music was highly appreciated. The well known music director, Husnalal Bhagatram was his younger brother and Khayyam was his disciple. He was director of a research project on gharanas. In 1989, his book in English, ‘Living Idioms in Hindustani Music: A Dictionary of terms and terminology’ was published. He had two daughters and a son. The son is a physician by profession. One daughter, Ms. Bindu Chawala, is active in music research and writing. One of his disciples, Ms. Shanti Sharma, representing his gayaki, has made his name shine.

 

[2] Singh Brothers

Presenting vocal performances in jugalbundi [duet], these two brothers, Tejpal Singh and Surender Singh duo, are known as Singh Brothers. Tejpal Singh was born on July, 24, 1937, at Lahore and Surender Singh was born on August, 16, 1940. During childhood, they received their education in music from their elder brother, Mr. G. S. Sardar, who was blind and was music teacher by profession. G. S. Sardar himself received training in music from B. N. Datta, who was also first guru of Pandit Amarnath. The elder brother motivated his two brothers to study the styles of other musicians by living in their close contact. Consequently, Surender Singh received guidance from dhrupad singer, Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagur for some time. In 1961, both brothers became disciples of Ustad Amir Khan and started learning music from him. Before being influenced by the style of Ustad Amir Khan, their gayaki was mostly influenced by Kirana and Patiala styles. In most of the ragas, they sing bandishes created or used by Ustad Amir Khan and they try to apply swara phrases, born out of merukhand, into sargam, like him. Nevertheless, their gayaki, in its entirety, is quite different from that of Ustad Amir Khan. Singh Brothers do not sing thumri, dadra etc, supposed to be semi classical, but they are active in the field of Panjabi devotional music.

 

They sing in India and abroad in different music programs and conferences. In 1987, during the Ustad Amir Khan memorial function, along with other disciples of Ustad Amir Khan, Sing Brothers also gave their performance. They are also Artists of Akashwani and Doordarshan. In 1988, under the chain broadcasting of music conference of radio, on 9th December, their performance was broadcast on all India level. Its sound recording is preserved with the author. During eighties, HMV released an LP of Shabad of Sikh Gurus, wherein Singh Brothers were music directors and songs were sung by Ms. Lata Mangeshkar.
 
 

[3] Shrikant Bakare

Shrikant Bakare was born at Nagpur. Pandit Manoher Barve of Nagpur gave him initial music lessons. Afterwards he was influenced by the gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan. He became his disciple and was taught by him regularly. Influence of Ustad Amir Khan can be seen clearly in his vilambit improvisation and drut tans and his tarana also appears to be influenced by Ustad Amir Khan. At the same time, he had an open mind to adopt specialties of other gharanas. In presentation of ragas, his selection of bandishes was different from Ustad Amir Khan. He used layakari based bolbat in khayal, which is against the style of Ustad Amir Khan. His vilambit khayals were not very often in jhumra tal. Basically, being a khayal singer, he also presented devotional music based on Ramcharitra Manas and poetry of Guru Granth Saheb. He had been singing for Akashwani and Doordarshan for forty years. Audio cassettes of his performances have also been released. In cassette No. SB 001 released by ‘Swarashree’, raga purya dhanashree, khayal and tarana presentation have been worth to be noticed. He gave his performance in Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Function held at Indore, in 1988 and 1989. He had represented India in World Peace Festival held in USA. He is no more alive.

 

[4] A. Kanan

Mr. Arkat Kanan [known as A. Kanan] was born in 1921 at Chennai [Madras]. His family was molded in South Indian cultural milieu and Karnatak music prevailed in his home. Despite this, later on, A. Kanan achieved success in North Indian music. His childhood passed in Hyderabad. There, besides his school education, he used to take lessons in music from Lanu Baburam. Thereafter, he took training as signal inspector in Railways, and was appointed to that post. In 1941, he was transferred to Calcutta. There, his ambition to go ahead in the field of music got encouragement by the environment of music prevailing in Calcutta. He started taking lessons in classical music from a famous singer of Calcutta, Mr. Girija Shankar Chakravarti. After some time, Mr. Chakravarti passed away. In those days, Ustad Amir Khan resided in Calcutta. In programs, A. Kanan heard his performance, which appealed to him, confirming to his interest. He requested Ustad Amir Khan to give advanced training in music, which Khan Saheb accepted, considering his talent. Mr. Kanan wanted to learn music with enthusiasm, but service in railways and frequent transfers, appeared to him as hindrance in his devotion. Therefore, he left service and started his own business. This process of taking lessons from Ustad Amir Khan continued for 1-2 years.

 

In 1945, he presented his public performance for the first time in a music concert, in Calcutta and thereafter his performance on stage continued. On 17th July, 1954, and 14th September, 1963, his all India programs were broadcast by Akashwani. HMV has also made records of his singing.

 

He considers his style to be based on the style of Ustad Amir Khan and Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan. Gradual improvisation of swaras in vilambit khayal, and to avoid mudra dosh [distortion in facial expression], ladant-bhidant [push and pull between singer and accompanists], and mathematical miracles, his opinions are similar to ideals of Ustad Amir Khan. Practically, in his application of swaras and  in the effect of his gayaki, style of Ustad Amir Khan is not visualized.[ii]

 

Besides khayal gayaki, he sings thumri also. He also sang for Bangla Films. His wife, Mrs. Malvika Kanan is also a famous singer.

 

[5] Kankana Banerjee:

She was born in Calcutta in 1946. Though she was born in the family of businessmen, she inherited music from her mother. Mother received the training of music from Pandit Tarapad Chakravarti and late Mr. Ratan, as the teacher and taught tradition. The first teacher of Ms. Kankana Banerjee was her mother. At an early age of nine years, she started learning music from Ustad Amir Khan. In those days, Ustad Amir Khan was a permanent resident of Mumbai, but very often he used to come to Calcutta and Kankana Banerjee took advantage of his guidance.

 

The voice of Ms. Kankana Banerjee is very sweet. The characteristic features of her singing are application of jhumra tal of ati vilambit laya in vilambit khayal, singing of famous bandishes and rubaidar taranas of Ustad Amir Khan and laya blended sargam.These are the features which show the training given by Ustad Amir Khan. She is the artist of Akash ani and Door Darshan. She participates in music conferences also. In 1988, she participated in Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Function held at Indore. HMV and Rhythm House PVT LTD Bombay have issued her cassettes. In the two cassettes issued by Rhythm House, Kankana Banerjee has tried to present bandishes of Ustad Amir Khan in his style.[iii]

 

At present, she lives at Bombay and is receiving guidance from Mr. Pratap Narayan, brother of Pandit Jasraj. Hence, the bandishes and fine vocal activities of Mevati gharana have been included in her gayaki.

 

[6] Dr. Ajeet Singh Pental:

He received his initial training in music from Mr. S.N. Ratanjankar. Then he started learning music from Ustad Amir Khan and was guided by him for about 15 years. He has been presenting his performance on radio since 1954. His vocal programs have been broadcast from Doordarshan also. In music competition organized by Akashwani in 1960, he won the gold medal. Mr. Pental was awarded Ph.D. in music by Delhi University in 1970. The subject of his research project was- “The nature and place of music in Sikh religion and its affinity with Hindustani Classical Music”. Presently he is working as a reader in music in Delhi University. He is supervisor for M.Phil. And Ph.D. degrees. His music programs are also held in India and abroad. As he has made his identity as a disciple and follower of Ustad Amir Khan, he was invited to present his performance at “Sur Rang” Music Conference held in Delhi, in May 1988 and Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Function held at Indore, in 1990.

 

Depth in voice, the mode of applying swara, and chendari [patience] in gradual improvisation, reflect the influence of Ustad Amir Khan.

 

[7] Dr. Prem Prakash Johari:

Dr. Prem Prakash Johari is resident of Merut [U.P.] and he active in the field of teaching music. He also performs for Akashwani Delhi.

 

He heard Ustad Amir Khan for the first time, in a music conference held at Jaipur in 1969. There he was very much influenced by the presentation of raga shudha kalyan and he intensely desired to learn music from him.

 

His second meeting with Ustad Amir Khan took place at Shrinagar. Ustad Amir Khan was there to participate in a music conference and Dr. Johari had gone there to conduct examination at Shrinagar University. There he expressed his desire to become his disciple, which Ustad Amir Khan accepted.

 

On 9th April 1970, at the residence of Dr. Johari [328, Shivranjani, Kabadi Bazaar, Merut Cant.] his ganda bandhan [string tying] ceremony was held. There, in the presence of invited prominent persons of Merut, first Dr. Johari and then Ustad Amir Khan presented their gayaki. Under the circumstances in which Ustad Amir Khan reached there to attend the program, is mentioned in the recollection of Dr. Johari, on another page.

 

Dr. Johari has been awarded Doctorate in music. His articles on music and bandishes are published in music journals.

 

[8] Mrs. Purvi Mukarjee:

The classical music prevalent in Calcutta was also influenced by gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan. Among the musicians influenced by him one is Mrs. Purvi Mukarjee. Mrs. Mukarjee was in his company until he breathed his last.

 

Mrs. Mukarjee performs for Akashwani and Doordarshan. In the serial of music programs broadcast by All India Radio on every Saturday, a program of Mrs. Mukarjee was broadcast on 18th January 1988, which was relayed by all stations of All India Radio. The audio recording of this program is preserved with the author. In this program, Mrs. Mukarjee presented raga yaman and bageshri, wherein the style of Ustad Amir Khan can be observed clearly. In raga yaman, bandish in vilambit jhumra ‘Kajara Kaise Darun’ and khayal in raga bageshri ‘Bahugun Kam Na Aye’ and taranas in both ragas, all these bandishes were in conformity with those of Ustad Amir Khan. She has participated in many music conferences in the country. In 1987, she performed in Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Function at Indore.

 

Living in Calcutta, she has kept alive the gayaki of Ustad Amir Khan.

 

[9] Gajendra Bukshi:

His education in music began in an institution of Rajkot named Sangeet Natya Bharati. His elder brother, Mr. Surendra Bukshi, was proficient in classical music. So, under his guidance, he practiced singing and became a rising artist. At this time, he had an opportunity to come in close contact with Ustad Amir Khan. Listening to his performance attentively and understanding his views and principles during discussions on music, Mr. Gajendra Bukshi became follower of his style. His method of applying swaras appears to follow the voice culture of Ustad Amir Khan sufficiently. His raga bihag [Vilambit- Kaise Sukh Soye, Drut- Ali Ri Alabeli], broadcast on 30th May 1989, is an example of this. Its audio recording is preserved with the author. He has performed in music conferences also. In March 1989, his program was held in Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Function at Indore. His performances are broadcast regularly from Rajkot station of Akashwani.

 

[10] Ustad Muneer Khan:

Besides vocalists, some instrumentalists have also received training in music from Ustad Amir Khan. One of them is Ustad Muneer Khan. Ustad Muneer Khan is a famous Sarangi player of India. He is deft in playing Sarangi as solo, and as an accompanist also.

 

It is a well known fact that Sarangi is most suitable instrument to follow gayaki ang [playing instrument as a replica of vocalism]. His effort to replicate every part of Ustad Amir Khan’s gayaki and its specialties in Sarangi playing; is praiseworthy. In place of gat [composition especially for instrumental], he uses bandishes and taranas of Ustad Amir Khan. Using the scope of stabilizing swara in bow instrument, he unfolds raga with improvisation and chendari and he expresses complex swara phrases of khandmeru on Sarangi.

 

He is an artist of Akashwani Delhi and resides in Delhi. He has privilege to accompany Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan and many other well known singers on Sarangi. In addition to music conferences in India, he has performed abroad also. In Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Function held at Indore, in March 1989, he played Sarangi as solo. On that occasion, by presenting Ustad Amir Khan’s bandishes and style, in his mixed application of singing and Sarangi playing, he had influenced the audience.

 

[11] Ustad Sultan Khan:

Ustad Sultan Khan is also a famous Sarangi player. He is son of Ustad Gulab Khan and grand son of the famous Sarangi player, Azeem Khan. He learned music from his father. He had started presenting singing and Sarangi playing effectively from early teen age. Later on he decided to establish himself as Sarangi player. Besides his father, Ustad Gulab Khan, he received guidance in Sarangi playing from Shahmir Khan, father of Ustad Amir Khan. After Shahmir Khan, he received training in music from Ustad Amir Khan and thus attained maturity in the knowledge of music.

 

He lives at Bombay and is a staff artist of Akashwani Bombay. He is efficient both in solo playing and accompaniment. Including Ustad Amir Khan, he has accompanied several famous singers successfully. He has presented lehara in the Tabla performance of renowned Tabla players, Ustad Allah Rakha and his son Ustad Zakir Hussain.[iv]He has performed his art in Europe and America also. He has contributed in the field of film music also.

 

[12] Hridaynath Mangeshkar:

The youngest of the five offspring of the famous singer, Mr. Dinanath Mangeshkar, Mr. Hridaynath Mangeshkar was born on 26th October 1937. The well known play back singer, Lata Mangeshkar, is the eldest of his sisters. When Mr. Dinanath Mangeshkar died in 1942, he was only four years old. After demise of his father, he was brought up under the patronage of his eldest sister, Lata. His father’s trend of music was inherited by him through his elder sisters and he started regular practice of classical music.

 

Lata motivated him to receive training in music from Ustad Amir Khan and due to her insistence; he became disciple of Ustad Amir Khan. About his training of music, Mr. Hridaynath Mangeshkar himself has given following information: -

 

“I was so young when father died that I could hardly listen to him and learn from him. But I heard Didi rehearsing the Ragas and classical songs, she had learnt from him and I picked up whatever I could of Baba’s music. - - - - - Although I was sent to school for studies, I could not resist the inherited urge for music and began yearning for it. Didi encouraged me to become a disciple of Ustad Amir Khan, a distinguished vocalist, known for his rich melodious voice and majestic Rag elaboration, so that I could have a proper grounding in classical music.”[v]

 

Being a scholar of classical music and a music director, Mr. Hridaynath is fully confident of tremendous scope of classical music in films and its permanent effect. When he was receiving training in music from Ustad Amir Khan, he composed two songs based on classical music and got them sung by Lataji, in his direction, whose records were released by HMV in 1954. One of them is the composition of Surdas; whose wordings are “Nisdin Barsat” and the other is of Meerabai, “Barse Bindiya Sawan Ki”. This effort of his was appreciated by top artist like Pandit Ravishankar and he encouraged him to go ahead in the field of music direction.

 

Without surrendering to the demand of commercialism of film industry, he mainly selected the field of directing non film classical and light songs. He has been the music director of most of the non film songs, Ghazals and devotional songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Main among them are Gyaneshwari and Bhagwat Geeta, Ghazals of Ghalib, Bhajans of Meera titled ‘Chala Vahi Desh’, Marathi poems of poet Bhaskar Ramchandra Tambe, etc.

 

Mr. Hridaynath Mangeshkar has given music direction to many Marathi and Hindi films in his distinct style. Among his Hindi films, ‘Prarthana’, ‘Harishchandra Taramati’ [1970], ‘Chakra’, ‘Dhanwan’, ‘Subah’ and ‘Mashal’ are outstanding. A film made in 1991, ‘Lekin’ [for which he was given the best music director award], wherein he himself along with Lataji, has sung a traditional bandish in raga gujri todi [Ja Ja Re Pathikwa][vi] It is to be noted that Ustad Amir Khan used sing vilambit khayal in raga gujri todi in jhumra tal. This bandish of Ustad Amir Khan, presented in ‘Utsav 1973’ held at Bhopal, is preserved with the author. Looking to Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s devotion to classical music, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi has awarded him the title of ‘Pandit’.

 

[13] Tom Ross:

Ustad Amir Khan used to perform in western countries during his tours to foreign countries. Working as a visiting professor, there he came in contact with students and music lovers of universities and colleges, having curiosity for Indian music. Many students tried to receive training in music from Ustad Amir Khan systematically. Among them, name of Tom Ross of USA is worth mentioning. He became a disciple of Ustad Amir Khan and understanding Indian cultural milieu, started learning music. Ustad Amir Khan was impressed by his progress. According to Ustad Amir Khan, merely listening to singing of Tom Ross, one could not imagine that the singer was a foreigner.

 

In 1969, Tom Ross came to India and participated in some concerts in Bombay. At present, he is not enough active in the field of singing.



[i] Sangeet, March 1955, P. 52, Interview with musicians: Amarnath, Interviewer: Harish Chandra Shrivastava, M. A., Sangeet Prabhakar.

[ii] Instance: H. M. V. Record 7 EPE 1002/Side 1 Raga Bageshri Vilambit and Drut Khayal. Side 2 Thumri.

[iii] Rhythm House Cassette No. 240, 344 A- Shuddha Kalyan Vilambit Jhumra, Drut Trital, B- Jog- Vilambit Rupak, Tarana Trital. No. 240, 352 A- Komal Rishabh Asavari, Vilambit Jhumra, Tarana Trital, B- Darbari Kanada, Vilambit Jhumra, Drut Trital.

[iv] Instance: Magna Sound Cassette No. C 4 H 10241 ‘Together Ustad Allah Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain’.

[v] Screen – 22 September 1989, The Mangeshkars on Lata ‘We are proud of Didi’ – Writer: R. M. Kumtakar.

[vi] Instance: film ‘Lekin’, H. M. V. cassette No. SPH 044465, side B.