Ustad Amir Khan's Impact on Other Artists

Dr. Ibrahim Ali


Ustad Amir Khan’s style influenced contemporary and succesive vocalists and instrumentalists. The previously mentioned disciples received their training in music directly from Ustad Amir Khan. In this context, it would be proper to mention those vocalists/instrumentalists who adopted trends of his gayaki, simply by listening to him and developed their gayaki by its inspiration. Many musicians of different gharanas come in this category. The name of Ustad Amir Khan is on the top, among the musicians who influenced the gayaki of other gharanas. Though, some of them proudly acknowledge this influence, whereas others, in spite of being influenced by him, keep mum about it. Nevertheless, knowledgeable audience can detect this influence. Those who themselves accepted the influence of Ustad Amir Khan are Goswami Gokulotsavji Maharaj of Indore gharana, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Prabha Atre, Pt. Rasiklal Andharia of Kirana gharana and Rashid Khan, a disciple of Nisar Husain Khan of Rampur-Sahaswan gharana. Among the instrumentalists, the names of Pt. Nikhil Banerjee and Budhdevdas Gupta are worth mentioning. In this respect, following few examples are important, which prove his influence: -


Acharya Goswami Gokulotsavji Maharaj


Pt. Bhimsen Joshi:

Pt. Bhimsen Joshi had said: At a certain period, I used to listen only to his recorded tapes at home. If I acquire even fifty percent of his art in my voice, I shall feel fortunate.[i]

In the words of Professor Shankar Abhyankar: “The stamp of Ustad Amir Khan’s style is visible in the gayaki of Panditji. The tranquility, sweetness, gravity in presentation of ragaall these sanskars have been adopted in the style of Panditji from Ustad Amir Khan’s gayaki.”[ii]


Dr. Prabha Atre:

Dr. Prabha Atre writes: “I heard Khan Saheb for the first time through the medium of records. - - - In the same period, I was introduced to Mr. Shrikant Bakare, one of the disciples of Khan Saheb. His view was the same, wise and always thinking about music. Several times, we sang together and discussed. By these sittings, I could get actual view of Khan Saheb’s gayaki. Unknowingly, I came so near to the gayaki of Khan Saheb that I could not realize. ‘Prabhaji has changed her trend.’ Such comments were reaching to me.


- - - No particular opportunity arrived to come near Khan Saheb personally. Even observing from a distance, one could see his cultured manners during conversation. I had no curiosity to know more about his personal life, as there was a unique place in my mind for Suresh Babu, as a guru and as a person also. It was not possible for me to replace him.


- - Even today people ask me ‘You have been so much influenced by the gayaki of Amir Khan Saheb, why don’t you admit him your guru?’ Always my answer is ‘Suresh Babu is my guru and Amir Khan is like a guru for me.’


- - The sargam between alap and tan of Khan Saheb was unique. What ever change took place in my gayaki, its root was in that sargam. After 1960, for the first time I began singing sargam. I found a new direction. I began to observe the activity of swaras more minutely.”[iii]


Sitar Mastero Pt. Nikhil Banerjee:

Pt. Ravishankar said about performance of Pt. Nikhil Banerjee: “In 1957-58, I observed wonderful form of his performance. There was different type of taste in his performance-playing style like a gayaki. In beginning, there was my influence. For some time I had taught him also. Then there appeared the influence of style of Vilayat Khan on him. There after reflection of the style of the great vocalist, Ustad Amir Khan was seen in his Sitar playing. In my opinion, his final hero was Amir Khan.”[iv]


Mr. Madanlal Vyas writes: “At the end of fifties, in the Sitar playing of Nikhil, there appeared to be influence of such an artist, who in fact can not be called his guru. He was the great vocalist Amir Khan. But in his young age, Nikhil was a disciple of Amir Khan by sentiment. In the performance of Nikhil, development of deep spiritualism and thoughtfulness got acceleration by the touch of Amir Khan. In this way, vilambit khayal found gradual entrance in the well built and expert instrument technique of Senia gharana. Similarly, specialty of merukhand of Amir Khan was spread in tan todas. Perhaps Nikhil was the originator and conveyor of Merukhand tan on Sitar.”[v]

[i] Jansatta-26th March 1989, ‘Ek Raga Ki Kahani’, Author: Vasant Potdar.

[ii] Swara Bhaskar, P. 283, Writer: Prof. Shankar Abhyankar

[iii] Swarmayee-P. 27-30, Writer: Dr. Prabha Atre.

[iv] Sangeet-April 1986, P. 35, ‘Navin Vishisht Wadan Shaili Ke Shrashta Pt. Nikhil Banerjee’

Writer: Madanlal Vyas.

[v] Sangeet-April 1986, P. 37, ‘Navin Vishisht Vadan Shaili Ke Srashta Pandit Nikhil Banerjee’

Writer: Madan Lal Vyas.