Millennium Post
Opinion

Crown prince of ghazal

Two great pillars of Indian ghazal singing crumbled in quick succession. Ustad Mehdi Hassan died on 13 June 2012 and Jagjit Singh died about nine months before him. Rendition of ghazals by these two maestros made unbelievable number of followers of this very delicate genre of music. The industry of music had made a good amount of investment in this genre. Organisers had never gone in losses, whenever they booked these maestros for stage performances. So, when faithful of ghazals looked around, after the irrecoverable losses of Hassan and Singh, they hardly found any hint of light. Who next? Or the even bigger question was, would this genre of singing be able to hold the glory!

It was 18 July 2012. Far from the attention of media, followers of Hassan assembled from every part of India in a tiny village called Luna of Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan. It was Hassan’s birthday and the venue was his birth place. The music committee of Delhi had arranged a musical concert to pay tribute to Hassan. They invited some renowned ghazal singers on the occasion. Rajkumar Rizvi, another giant of ghazal singing and an able disciple of Hassan was also present. Ahmad Hussain-Muhammad Hussain, the famous duo were also asked to perform. Various other singers also came to pay tribute by singing some melodious
ghazals
for the dedicated audience in the peak summer of Rajasthan. Rizvi and Hussain brothers discussed about the future of ghazal singing in India. Their discussion revolved around some unforgettable tracks and the need to ask someone to
carry forward the baton.

Then came a caravan of melody announcing the arrival of the crown prince of ghazal. A very handsome man , looking more of a sportsperson, took the stage. A mat finished ear-top twinkled in his right ear. A very calculated smile brought a very gentle motion on his face. His fingers took a swift round of the harmonium keys and the audience in no time got back with a loud applause.

The moment he took his alaap, a serene silence enthralled around the tent that was put up for the concert. Many of us heard Roshan Bharti sing for the first time. He was indeed the man of the moment.

Since, the show was a tribute to Hassan, Bharti mostly sang his ghazals. He sang his ghazals with a new and fresh fragrance.

One needs to have guts to take such liberties with musical tracks that have been composed or sung by a maestro like Hassan. Bharti did that with a lot of humility and sincerity. The audience, half of which comprised of senior artists and family members of Hassan, were stunned and felt delighted.

When all this was in progress, a man sitting in the front row was seen crying. It was Yasin Bharti, father of Roshan Bharti.  

Roshan Bharti is Ustad Jamal Khan’s grandson, a famous vocalist who belonged to the seniya gharana. Khan is known to the world as Jagjit Singh’s ustad. One sees in Roshan the perfect blend of Singh’s style and Hassan’s singing. It looks as if it comes naturally to him. His grandfather evolved a style of rendition with simplicity, which Singh was famous for. And, the intricate deliberation of ragas came from Hassan’s school of singing.

Bharti comes from the same clan Babur, that Hassan belonged to. He is also from the
kalavant
tradition of Hindustani classical music that traces its origin to Miyan Tansen. Originally they lived in neighbouring villages in Shekhavati region of Rajasthan. ‘These are bare facts, but it hardly helps if you do not possess the qualities that the audience is looking for,’ Bharti clarified, with all humility.

Bharti is a music professor in Kota university, a post that he got by securing the first position in Public Service Commission. Before that he also secured the same position in his master’s degree in music. He did his Ph.D on Begum Akhtar and now under his supervision, his disciple Deepesh Vishnavat is doing his research on Mehdi Hassan.

Bharti has produced a lot of ghazal albums in his name. His albums Daagh, Ehsas, Aapki Khatir and his latest one Ulfat have won a lot of critics’ admiration, apart from doing good business. His compositions Besabab baat badhane ki zaroorat kya hai, Maine kaha nazar mila, Dil lagane ki kisi se wo saza payi, ki bas... are rare gems and put him in the same class of maestros.

An exciting ensemble is under process in the world of ghazals, where Farhat Shazad, a poet famous for his album Kehna Use with Hassan, has penned down some exclusive ghazals for Bharti to compose and sing.

I must assure you that the empire of ghazal has found its crown prince in the name of Roshan Bharti.

Akilesh Jha is a civil servant. The views expresssed are his own.

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