There is no dearth of child prodigies showing great promise from a very young age in our country but as they grow up most of them get lost in obscurity. There are only a few who live up to the initial hype they generate. Arshad Ali Khan of Kirana Gharana is one of those few artists.
Arshad’s mastery over his craft can be attributed to his Riyaaz but it’s the tutelage of his maternal uncle Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan that has pruned him into a diamond. Arshad is the grandson of Sarangi Maestro Padmshree Shakoor Khan. In 1988, ITC SRA Kolkata organised a talent hunt show in Delhi, 4 year old Arshad participated in it, his astounding performance stunned the judges. Arshad was selected and two years on, he became a scholar at the academy.
At ITC SRA also, Arshad’s training continued under the watchful eyes of his uncle Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan. In July 2009, Arshad was selected among the ranks of Musician scholar at ITC SRA and by 2012; he became a tutor at the academy. Arshad has learned treasure trove of rare bandishes (compositions) from his Ustad.
His talent earned him the title of ‘Chote Ustad’ in his childhood. Arshad got an opportunity to perfom at Sawai Gandharv Sammelan, when he was just 9 years old. The doyen of Kirana gharan Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi had specially invited him to perform at Sawai Gandharv Sammelan on his 75th anniversary. After this function, 9 year old Arshad came to be described as the ‘Biggest Sensation’. Panditjee blessed him and declared that Arshad had efficiently lifted the beautiful tradition of Kirana Gharana on his little shoulders.
Be it the melodius aalaps of Meerkhand style or his deep voice echoing from his naval;be it his sensitive Aalaps playing in rhythmic cycles or his lightening fast taans; his intonations never drift from their trajectory. His style of taankari, along with his body language has striking resemblance to Rampur Sahaswan Gharana’s Ustad Rashid Khan. Rashid Khan’s influence on Arshad’s music could not be a mere co-incidence as both Rashid Khan and Arshad are products of ITC SRA Kolkata.
The kind of musical family Arshad comes from can be understood after watching this video. Just see, on the occasion of Amjad Ali’s Sehra Bandhai Rasam, family member’s are singing a Bandish (composition) in Raag Shahna.
Arshad Ali Khan has a long list of achievements in his young shining career .He received Jadu Bhatta puraskar in 2002, the Bharatiya Sanskriti Samsad Best Vocalist Award in 2010 and the ‘Best Young Talent of the Year’ by Rasa and Melting Pot Productions in 2011. He has recorded albums under reputed labels like HMV,SaReGaMa etc. Arshad has also performed in many prestigious festivals in India and abroad. Arshad is gaining popularity among the listeners of classical music in Europe and Middle-East. Arshad’s journey has just begun, he has a long way to go, a lot more to achieve and bring more glory to Indian Classical Music.