KARACHI: The comment may sound outrageous, but one’s observation has been that a trained classical artist, in most cases, emerges as a more proficient and confident performer after his guru has passed away, making him deprived of guidance! For it is only after he is given the choice to be his own man and do his own thing that he emerges as a truly accomplished artist.

Examples: Nafees Ahamd, Ashraf Sharif Khan, Ikhlaq Husain, Farhan Khan – off springs of Ustads: Fateh Ali Khan, Sharif Khan Poonchwaly, Imdad Husain and the great Rais Khan, respectively. Isn’t it true that these young sitar players became Ustads in their own right after they were deprived of parental guidance!

Listening to the young Turab Ali at the T2F on Saturday one kept thinking of his Nana (maternal grand-father) Ustad Imdad Husain, who had trained him; Imdad passed away when Turab was very young. After that it was for the young lad to work hard on the priceless lessons he had received from his grandfather and his maternal uncle Ikhlaq Husain. Indeed, it was great to see the young man holding the audience spellbound for good two hours.

He played three raags – Charukeshi, Des and Anandi – to an assembly comprising mostly young people.

While Des is a straight-forward Odho-Sampooran (pentatonic-heptatonic) raag, meaning that all seven notes are used in the Aarohi (ascend) and 6 in the Avrohi (descend), Charukeshi, too, is a raag that has all the seven notes in the ascend and descend. The raag is adopted from South Indian music.

Anandi, on the other hand, is a bit tricky; the performer needs to avoid wandering into the territory of other raags such as Kidara, Behag, Hameer, since the same notes are used in these raags as well. Anandi’s ascending and descending notes are: Sa Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa; Sa Ni Pa Dha Ma Pa Ga Ma Dha Pa Re Sa. Turab Ali played this raag to perfection. A famous song of Lata that comes to mind that has strong glimpses of this raag is “tu jahan jahan chalay ga mera saya sath ho ga.”

He was accompanied on tabla by the young and energetic Yousuf Kerai, whose profession is teaching mathematics but his passion is music that he has translated into tabla playing like a professional. His expertise in playing the taals in Drut (fast) Laye was very impressive.

T2F, founded in 2007, was a brainchild of Zahir Kidwai and his protégé, Sabeen Mahmood, the brave young girl whose life was cut short in April 2015 by a couple of educated enemies of art and culture. After Sabeen’s untimely death, it looked like T2F would die, too, but it goes to the resoluteness of its aging founder that it continues to quench the thirst of those who wish to come together and share their love for art and culture in the troubled metropolis.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2018

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