Remembering Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu, Lahore’s Sham Chaurasi gharana legend : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

Remembering Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu, Lahore’s Sham Chaurasi gharana legend

Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu, whose silken voice captivated hearts beyond boundaries, passed away recently

Remembering Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu, Lahore’s Sham Chaurasi gharana legend

The late Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu performing at a concert. photo courtesy: Khaliq Chishti and Music World, Lahore



Krishnaraj Iyengar

Only music has truly transcended barriers after Partition. While Pakistanis love Lata Mangeshkar’s ethereal renditions, the dreamy, soft voice of Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu moves many Indians. His ‘rula dene wali awaaz’ (voice that makes you weep) was famously given an audience of several hours by Lataji herself during his India visit.

The Ustad, who passed away earlier this month, was renowned for his versatility. He hailed from Punjab’s Sham Chaurasi gharana. “This tradition founded by Chaand Khan and Suraj Khan, both contemporaries of Mian Tansen, dates back to the 16th century. Through its history, its generations came down in pairs, the most famous being Salamat Ali and Nazakat Ali Khan, who settled in Lahore after Partition. Ustad Gullu was their cousin; he excelled in both khayal and ghazal,” shares sitar and tabla maestro Pt Nayan Ghosh.

Named after Sham, who ruled over a cluster of 84 villages in Hoshiarpur, the style is known for open-throated and evocative singing and gamak or shakes, says Punjab gharana’s tabla stalwart Pt Sushil Kumar Jain. Be it Punjabi Sufi, ghazal or serious khayal in difficult ragas, Ustad Gullu reflected distinct individualism. “Khan saheb was born in 1945 and his father Nathu Khan was a disciple of Fateh Ali Khan of the famous Jarnail-Karnail Patiala duo. His style was a bouquet of influences, namely Salamat Ali Khan from whom he learnt, Barkat Ali and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. But he had his own signature style embellished with rooh (soul),” says renowned Pakistani music scholar Saqib Razzaq.

He says the Ustad was a ‘musician’s musician’, a beloved of connoisseurs. “While Khan saheb was adept at serious ragas like Marwa, Todi and Lalit, he employed all 12 swaras in thumri and kaafi, reflecting beauty along with mastery over difficult technique. Until his illness, he never missed his morning riyaaz. He would proudly talk about Lata Mangeshkar offering him an audience of almost seven hours,” says Razzaq. During his India visits, Razzaq found Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu to be among Pakistan’s most acknowledged vocalists along with Mehdi Hassan and Salamat Ali Khan.

Senior musicians and historians from both sides of Punjab cherish fond memories of the late Ustad and his flawless mastery over diverse vocal streams. “In 2004, when he was invited to perform at Punjab’s prestigious Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan, the audiences were initially not pleased by his presence. But eventually, as he unfolded the thumri ‘Balam kadar nahin jaane apni karat hai, mori na mane’, with shades of Bhairavi, Lalit and Pilu, they were enthralled,” reminisces historian and scholar Balbir Singh Kanwal.

He says the Ustad was loved for his renditions of Punjabi Sufi saints like Sultan Bahu, Baba Bulleh Shah and Farid. “The zenith of his glory came from his song ‘Dardaan de daru loko daso kithon mil de’, which was a great contribution to Punjabi ghazal. I doubt if any can surpass him in Multani and kaafi,” Kanwal shares.

At his mehfils, he would have audiences roaring ‘wah, wah’ as he would seamlessly glide over the notes of the ragas, playing the harmonium himself. Known to be affable, his friends mourn as well as celebrate him. The famed London-based author, musicologist and historian Ayub Aulia, 85, who hails from Gujranwala, says: “Gullu saheb was an ‘azeem’ (great) artiste, a brilliant amalgamation of both Patiala and Sham Chaurasi styles. He had his own distinct flavour, was a fabulous teacher and a lovely human being. In fact, he sang a more difficult style than Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali. However, they stole the limelight.”

Today, his sons Chaand Khan, Suraj Khan and Ghulam Shabir carry forward his legacy. “Such greats will never return,” Razzaq laments.

#Lata Mangeshkar


Top News

Bomb scare on Delhi-Varanasi IndiGo flight; passengers evacuated

Bomb scare on Delhi-Varanasi IndiGo flight; passengers evacuated

Anti-sabotage checks are on and nothing suspicious has been ...

Punjab town that won’t be divided by political & religious hatred

Punjab town that won’t be divided by political & religious hatred

Muslim-majority Malerkotla remains unaffected by polarising ...

Modi’s urban Naxal remark insult to 3 cr Punjabis: Kejri

Modi’s urban Naxal remark insult to 3 crore Punjabis: Arvind Kejriwal

After Shah’s statement, Mann dares BJP to topple his govt

Moosewala’s 2nd barsi to be a low-key affair

Here is why Sidhu Moosewala’s 2nd barsi to be a low-key affair

Several NGOs would organise blood donation camps at his memo...


Cities

View All