Tributes to Fayyaz Ahmad Khan
By MOHAN NADKARNI
The Economic Times, May 22, 1988
Disciples, admirers and friends of Ustad Fayyaz Ahmad Khan, a noted exponent of the Kirana gharana and a versatile lyricist and ghazal singer in his own right, joined in to pay their touching tributes to his memory in observance of his first death anniversary at the Tejpal Auditorium in Bombay on May 6.
It was a concert of a composite character, thoughtfully conceived and efficiently presented, in which recitanls of raga music and ghazal music were judiciously featured.
The programme began with renditions of two ghazals penned by the Ustad under his norm-deplume. (Fayyaz Jaipuri) by his son, Sarfaraz Ahmad. The pieces were not only sweet for their music but also touching in their lyrical import. And the younger sang them with great emotion.
The popular singer, Sonali Jalota, who came next also rendered two ghazals, written by Jan Nissar Akhtar, with practised fluency and ease. Thereby she reaffirmed her claim to her prememinence in the field of popular music.
Then came Sheila Dhar, a senior disciple of the late Usta, with her detailed depiction of KoushiKanada, which was her mentor’s favourite melody. The way she explored the melodic possibilities of this rather complex raga showed her worthwhile grooming under the guidance of her guru.
Ustad Niaz Ahmad Khan, younger brother of the Ustad, provided the final item of the programme with a heartwarming sound picture of Rageshree, followed by a 10-minute number in Pahadi. He rounded off his performance with the bitter-sweet Bhairavi thumri.“Jamuna ke teer,” immortalised by that great luminary, Abdul Karim Khan, who did more than most to popularise the Kirana gharana.
Concert-goers will recall that Niaz Ahmad Khan was an inseparable partner of his elder brother throughout his career. The two brothers had made their mark as ideal exponents of jugalbandi in Hindustani music. What put them in a class by themselves was not only the exemplary teamwork they revealed in their partnership effort, but also the way they understood each others angularities, so much so that it would seem that jugalbandi naturally came to them. The manner in which they supplemented and complemented each other’s contribution set an example of ideal comradeship in collective endeavour.
If, for instance, Fayyaz Ahmad Khan excelled in smooth, soothing alapchari, in the moulding of his slow-tempo raga bandish, it was left to Niaz to give it a quality of liveliness and speed by means of a variety of sprightly, cascading taan patterns. What thus emerged in the end was an abiding portraiture of the chosen raga, as homogenous in its form, design and structure, as one would always find in a solo presentation.
This was possibly the first time that the audience heard Niaz Ahmad in solo. Though one naturally missed the physical presence of the elder brother, Niaz Ahmad almost recreated the musical image of the departed Ustad when he proceeded to etch out the tonal contours of his Rageshree through relaxed, reposeful alapi and badhat reminiscent of Fayyaz Ahmad’s style. In so doing, he dispelled the impression, so to speak, in the minds of those listeners who had, rightly or wrongly, dubbed him as a specialist in fast-singing.
In between came the verbal tributes from Mr Arvind Parikh, the noted sitarist, Mr Khayyam, the versatile music director, and Ghulam Mutafa Khan, the popular vocalist. The speakers briefly narrated the late Ustad’s rich and varied contributions to classical and popular music.
Ustad Fayyaz Ahmad Khan was in his early sixties when he died of throat cancer last year. Although a scion of an illustrious family of classical masters, his versatility showed itself in many ways. He popularised a number of melodies like Shobhavari, Shudh-Maru, Shudh-Samant, Malini and Leelavati. Among his own innovations was Chandraprabha, a raga which has been popularised by a maestro of the eminence of Bismillah Khan.
Fayyaz Ahmad’s greatness as a ghazaliya brought him recognition from the government of Uttar Pradesh. Many of his lyrics have been sung and recorded by celebrities like Begum Akhtar, Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Muhammad and others.
A recipient of Padma Shri, he was also awarded a fellowship by the Sangeet Research Academy of ITC for his contribution to Hindustani music. He cut many long play discs which featured him in jugalbandhi with Niaz Ahmad Khan.
One of his discs was listed by “The New York Times” as one of the best-selling records of Hindustani vocal music in America.