Biographies of Maestros

He was father of Chhajjoo Khan, Nazeer Khan and Khadim Hussain Khan. He was a resident of Bijnaur, near Moradabad situated in Uttar Pradesh and was an accomplished musician.

The triumvirate have founded the Bhendi Bazaar Gharana. They had their initial training in music from their father, Ustad Dilawar Hussain Khan at Bijnaur, near Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. They continued study of music under the guidance of Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan of Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana. Later they received advanced training in Dhrupad style, as well as, theory and science of music, Indian Philosophy and culture from Ustad (he was also titled "Shat-Shastri scholar of six sciences) Inayat Khan of the Dagar Gharana.

The three brothers shifted to Mumbai around 1870. They stayed with their brother Vilayat Hussain Khan who had a flourishing trading business. Gradually, the style of singing of the three brothers gained reputation in Mumbai and they came to be known as singers from Bhendi Bazaar. In due course, the style of singing, of the three brothers got popularised as Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki. Although the three brothers were exponents of Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki, they had their individual strong points and preferences.

Ustad Chhajjoo Khan (alias Amar shah sahib) had specialized in Dhrupad style. He composed many Khyals and Dhrupads. The pseudonym 'Amar' is included in many Bandishes composed by him. He was spiritual by nature and his disciple Ustad Chand Khan of Delhi Gharana respected him as his preceptor.

Ustad Nazeer Khan had specialised in intricate tonal compositions applying Khandmer principle and alaaps with meend similar to Beena. Pandita Anjanibai Malpekar was his foremost disciple.

Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan was specialist in intricate taans using Khandmer principle and vigorous taans.

Sangeet Shastra (The science of music) was also a subject dear to the heart of the three brothers. Ustad Nazeer Khan used to teach music in "Sangeet Gayannottejak Mandli" an institution founded by Parsi community for propagation of Hindustani classical music. Pandit V.N. Bhatkhande was also a member of the Institute. Ustad Nazeer Khan had close relations with Pt. V.N. Bhatkhande and they used to have discussions regularly on matters related with Sangeet Shastra.

In those days, the three brothers had established the reputation of BhendiBazaar Gharana. Therefore, some exponents of other Gharanas also came to study under them, absorbed the nuances of BhendiBazaar Gayaki and blended it with their original style; for example, Ustad Chand Khan of Delhi Gharana, Ustad Mamman Khan, Ustad Shahmir Khan (Sarangi player and father of Ustad Amir Khan), Wadilal Shivram, Ustad Jhande Khan, Kadarbaksh (Sargangi player who was famous for accompannying Bal Gandharva) and Miyanjan.

However, the prominent disciple of Ustad Nazeer Khan, Pandita Anjanibai Malpekar and son of Ustad Chhajjoo khan, Ustad Aman Ali Khan deserve all the credit for assimilating all the facets of Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki and carrying the tradition of the Gharana to next generations.

Anjanibai was born in musicians' family in Goa on 22nd April, 1883. She started learning music from Ustad Nazeer Khan at a tender age of 8 years. She used to learn from Ustad and then practise for herself and the sessions would extend up to 10-12 hours every day. She had stated that Ustad first taught her Raga Yaman for three and a half years and then Bhairavi for one and a half years (both the ragas together covered all the twelve notes of the octave). After the two ragas were thoroughly mastered by Anjanibai, he taught her many other special Ragas. He also taught her Sangeet Shashtra and the method of writing notation for Bandishes.

She made her debut in a public performance in Mumbai at the age of 16 years. The performance was so exhilarating that she received an award of Rupees five thousand, which she handed over to her Guru. Ustad Nazeer Khan. After the first performance in Mumbai, her reputation spread across the music community in the country and she received invitations for participating in conventions all over the country. She commanded respect as a talented artist of a very high calibre. In the meantime she married Seth Wasanji Ved. While she was close to reaching the summit of popularity her voice got badly affected after a performance in 1904, making it impossible for her to sing. As the voice could not be restored after a yearlong treatment, someone suggested to her name of a spiritual Guru. Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon, near Pune. She approached him and her voice got miraculously corrected after consuming prasad - clove & sugar given by Guru as blessing She then continued to learn under Ustad Nazeer Khan and started giving public performances again. However, death of Ustad Nazeer Khan in 1920, was too severe a loss for her to sustain and created a void in her life which could not be filled. She lost interest in giving public performances and preferred to lead a spiritual life. After her last public performance in Town hall of Mumbai, in 1923 when she was barely 40 years old she retired from giving public performance.

Although she had cut herself off from public performances, she continued to offer guidance to senior musicians, such as, Pt. Kumar Gandharva, Shrimati Kishori Amonkar, Pt. T.D. Janorikar, Begum Akhtar and Naina Devi. In appreciation of her extraordinary contribution to Hindustani classical music, she was awarded Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Academy at the hands of the First President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad. She led a meritorious life up to the age of 91 years when she passed away on 7th August, 1974.

He was the son of the eldest brother Chhajjoo Khan. He was born in 1888. Aman Ali Khan did not have much liking for music in the childhood. His elder brother, Ustad Fida Ali Khan and Ustad Nazeer Khan's son Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan had died prematurely. The three brothers were, therefore, worried about the future of Bhendi Bazaar Gharana. On one occasion Aman Ali Khan was impressed by Anjanibai Malpekar's singing and he praised her. Ajanjanibai took the opportunity to explain to him that he alone inherited the treasure of music, collected with great difficulty and pains by his father and two uncles. She had learnt only a small part of the treasure. She was thus successful in convincing him that he was the only successor of Bhendi Bazaar Gharana in the next generation and it was his duty to learn music from his father and uncles. Thereafter Aman Ali Khan seriously devoted himself to learning music and pursued rigorous Riyaz. Young Aman Ali also learned Karnatic music under the guidance of Kalanidhi Bidaram Krishnappa, court Musician of Mysore state and introduced rhythm play (layakari) and style of singing notation –solfa syllables (sargam) in Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki. U. Aman Ali Khan studied the Science of Music, Sanskrit, Brajbhasha and Hindi literature and mastered the method of writing notation of a Bandish. Due to his inclination to spiritual life and influence of Vallabh Sampradaya an under current of devotion is found in many Bandishes composed by him. He was a composer par excellence ( Nayak- Waggeyakar) and his bandishes reflect the sensitive and creative poet in him, his mastery over the languages through selection of right words and use of different figures of speech, his talent as a musician of high calibre, who could present and condense all the subtleties and characteristics of the chosen Raga, as well as Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki in Bandishes. He had composed some Bandishes in Urdu also. He adopted the Pseudonym 'Amar' which was used by his father Ustad Chhajjoo Khan and included the same skillfully in most of the Bandishes.

The novelty and richness of Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki and the simple and respectable nature of Ustad Aman Ali Khan, attracted many budding artists of other Gharanas. Ustad Amir Khan was one of such artists who blended medium tempo (Madhya laya) Gayaki, intricate sargams and gamak taans in his style and learnt some Bandishes from Ustad Aman Ali Khan. Pandit Vasantrao Deshpande was also influenced by Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki and incorporated singing of complex Sargam Patterns in his style. The list of Ustad Aman Ali Khan's Disciples, also includes some artists from other Gharanas and leading artists from film Industry or light music, such as, Lata Mangeshkar, Nisar Bazmi, (music director who immigrated to Pakistan after partition) , Manna Dey, Ustad Wali Ahmed Khan, B.Chaitanya Dev and Harmonium player Shantilal.

The credit of absorbing fully sustaining and spreading Bhendi Bazaar Gayaki goes to disciples of the fourth generation namely, Pt. Shivkumar Shukla, Master Navrang, Pt. Pandurang Amberkar, Pt. Ramesh Nadkarni, Ustad Muhammed Hussain Khan and Pt. T. D. Janorikar.

Bhendi Bazaar, Gayaki includes the following prominent characteristics :
1. Akar sung in open voice.
2. Improvisation of the raga (alap, taan and sargam) based on Khandmer principle, i.e. various combinations of a given set of notes to bring out beauty and melody of the Raga.
3. Presentation in Madhya laya (medium tempo), and madhyadrut laya (medium fast tempo).
4. Melodious smooth meends with breath control.
5. Forceful Gamak taans, sapat taans and satta taans.
6. Presentation of Bandishes having delightful mixture of shabda, soor and laya (words, notes and tempo).
7. Dance oriented structure of singing of sargams (singing complex combinations of solfa syllables in harmony with their designated pitches)
8. Individualistic and beautiful rhythm play.
9. Inclusion of some melodious ragas of Karnatak Music, such as Hansdhwani, Nag swaravali, Pratapvarali.

Ustad Aman Ali Khan shunned publicity and preferred to lead a secluded, spiritual life. He rarely sang in public performances. He followed a simple life style and he was free from any bad habits. He left Mumbai in 1947 and settled in Pune. He liked reading of books on the science of music (Sangeet Shashtra) and writing on music. He had written in Urdu a volume on music, comprising of detailed description of subtleties that human voice can produce, nuances of Gayaki, different raga swaroops and notation of 200-300 Bandishes. However, the manuscript got burnt in a fire erupted at his house. When living in Pune, Pt. T.D. Janorikar and Ustad Muhammed Hussain Khan became his disciples and learnt under him for about 5 years.

Pandit Ravi Shanker heard Pandit Shivkumar Shukla's programme once. He was so influenced by the Bhendi Bazaar style, that he met Ustad Aman Ali Khan and persuaded him to come to Delhi. Ustad Aman Ali Khan presented the Gayaki in a concert held at Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi and mesmerized the learned audience. He was then invited to sing at the national programme of music in 1953 to which he had given a consent. However, due to cold weather of Delhi he suffered from an attack of pneumonia before the National programme could be arranged. He breathed his last, after that brief illness on 11th February, 1953 which happened to be Mahashivratri, considered to be an auspicious day celebrated in worship of God Shiva.