Where are they now

Ustad BS Narang is preserving the masterful notes of yore

Ustad BS Narang is preserving the masterful notes of yore

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 21

His tastefully chosen bandishes evoke nostalgia in a generation bred on vocal poetry and songs of Ustad and dervishes and sick of the present day noise, which goes for music.

Preserving a long tradition of music tutored by Gurus who nurtured Doaba’s musical movement of the 1950s to 80s, Ustad BS Narang’s vocal renditions bring back a bygone era and introduce present generations to music created by Punjab musical masters.

Has given taleem to the likes of Hans Raj Hans, Jasbir Jassi and Sarabjeet Cheema

It was the atmosphere at home and musical gatherings and lessons going on around me, which got me attracted to music early on. My father always laid stress on academics while asking me never to leave my penchant for music. I quite like Gal sun lai sajjan dil naal, hun sambh lai sur aur taal and Mohan Jago Harwa in Raga Deshkar (both composed by his father). The mastery of our ancestors was unparalleled and it is in their footsteps we try to walk. Despite the odds and the pandemic, I made it a point to continue my riyaaz religiously. It is music that keeps me going. So, I regularly sing and am working on a book on bandishes by our ancestors.

A retired professor and an A-grade artist, he has lent taleem to the likes of Hans Raj Hans, Jasbir Jassi and Sarabjeet Cheema, among others. Generations have also been regaled with his choicest bandishes on radio and TV.

Born and brought up at Nakodar, he received his early lessons from his father Pt Kesar Chand and was subsequently tutored by Husan Lal, Ustad Karam Singh Chakraborty, Dr SL Mishra and Pt KS Jasra.

“It was the atmosphere at home and musical gatherings and lessons going on around me, which got me attracted to music early on. My father always laid stress on academics while asking me never to leave my penchant for music.”

While pursuing his graduation from Doaba College in Jalandhar and DAV College, he joined the latter as a professor in 1973 and hasn’t looked back ever since.

Having had the honour of performing with the likes of sarangi virtuoso Ustad Sabri Khan during a conference in Tanda and also having sung with Ustad Salamat Ali Khan Sahib – he won praise and accolades from the legends. Ustad Salamat Ali Khan was taken by his command on vocals, which he greatly appreciated.

At 75, having recuperated from a recent illness, it was music, which kept Ustad Narang busy during the pandemic. He has featured as one of Punjab’s acclaimed musical artists (along with Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan) in music textbook for Class XII students. He has also penned a book called “Punjab Khayal Bandishen”, which features his vast collection of music bandish of Ragas from the region.

He is also currently working on another book – featuring Bandishes of yore from classical musical masters of the state – including his father and Guru.

Ustad Narang has a decade-long career performing for radio and TV. He has also performed for BBC and TV Asia, among other.

His concerts regaled audiences across the US, London, Birmingham, Scotland, Bratford and Wales. He had performed at music festivals - Baba Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan (Jalandhar), Saptswar (Delhi), Fort William (Kolkata), and Sangeet Sammelan (Mumbai), among others.

About his favourite bandishes, he says, “I quite like “Gal sun lai sajjan dil naal, hun sambh lai sur aur taal” and “Mohan Jago Harwa” in Raga Deshkar (both composed by his father). The mastery of our ancestors was unparalleled and it is in their footsteps we try to walk. Despite the odds and the pandemic, I made it a point to continue my riyaaz religiously. It is music that keeps me going. So, I regularly sing and I am working on a book on bandishes by our ancestors.”

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