KARACHI: Music lovers were treated to an array of classical compositions by the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi on Saturday evening when Ustad Mazhar Umrao Bundu Khan sang for a bit more than two hours with a great deal of enthusiasm.
The ustad began the concert with raga Purvi from the vast repertoire of Hazrat Amir Khusrau. It contained the kalaam aimed at highlighting the poet and musician’s admiration for Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. Ustad Mazhar Umrao Bundu Khan sounded a little rusty when he began the alaap as it took him quite a while to warm his voice up. Once he was able to do that, he sang pretty well. In fact, he hit the higher notes with ease.
His transition from one scale to another was smooth and his rendering of the sargam unhindered. It was a longish performance which allowed the audience to get the hang of the mood of the event.
Next up was a little bandish in raga Aiman Kaliyan. The ustad used it as a forerunner to the song for which those who had come to the council’s Jaun Elia Lawn were requesting him: ‘Chhap tilak sub chheen li’. It was a hit item, although Mazhar Umrao Bundu Khan kept the tempo a tad unfamiliar than it’s usually sung in.
Prior to the performance, answering questions put to him by the host of the show Dr Huma Mir, the ustad said he started to learn music when he was three years old. His father, Ustad Umrao Bundu Khan, taught him that the first thing that he needed to do was to sit properly, the way musicians are supposed to sit. Narrating a story about his legendary grandfather, the sarangi player Ustad Bundu Khan of the Delhi gharana, he said once when he (Mazhar) landed at Delhi airport for a visit, the immigration officer upon knowing that he was the grandson of Ustad Bundu Khan greeted him with warmth and respect. He added his grandfather died in 1955 but was still remembered with fondness by those who know the finer points of classical music.
Speaking about his gharana (Delhi), he claimed that eminent artists such as Iqbal Bano, Maqbool Sabri, Akhtar Husain (sarangi player) and Suraiya Multaniker belonged to the same musical family. He also urged those who wish to enter the field to learn the art form from a proper guru or ustad.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021