Tabla tales

Directed by Nitin Mahadar, Doyen of Farrukhabad documents the life of tabla maestro Ustad Amir Hussain Khan and also takes us through the journey of the tabla over the past decades in India

India has seen many great music maestros, who have contributed immensely to the art of the tabla. Ustad Amir Hussain Khan (1899–1969), a tabla phenomenon of the 20th century, was one such stalwart from the Farrukhabad Gharana. The documentary, Doyen of Farrukhabad, takes a look at the musical journey of this revered artiste, who widened the horizon of the art of tabla, with his spectacular performances, magnificent compositions, new dimensions and a vast vision. It highlights his painstaking effort to enrich and propagate the art of the tabla, through a series of interviews of his relatives, disciples and performances by eminent artistes who are carrying forward his legacy and his music.

Ustad Amir Hussain Khan in concert
Ustad Amir Hussain Khan in concert

“He was a Nayak in the true sense, who possessed great qualities of a ‘Bajayak’ (performer), ‘Banayak’ (composer) and a ‘Batayak’ (mentor) all rolled in one. In short, this documentary will give a rare insight into the life and works of an extraordinary genius,” says director Nitin Mahadar, adding, “He taught lorry drivers, municipal workers and a host of other people, making the art of tabla-playing accessible to the common man.”

Ustad Amir Hussain Khan
Ustad Amir Hussain Khan

The documentary starts in the early 18th century. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire was on the decline. Around this time, Ustad Sidhar Khan Dhadi founded the first Gharana or Baaj of the art of tabla playing. This was the Delhi Gharana.

Director, Nitin Mahadar
Director, Nitin Mahadar

As the documentary progresses, the director takes a look at the socio-economic and political changes that occurred in India from then on, and its reflections on the art of the tabla. It talks about the different Gharanas and their founders, of which the Farrukhabad Gharana is a prominent Baaj (style of playing), founded by Ustad Haji Vilayat Ali Khan. The documentary has been made in English and Urdu and will be hosted by veteran actor Tom Alter. The music for the documentary has been composed by Pandit Nayan Ghosh, who has also sung the compositions and played the sitar and surbahar for this documentary. He is the son of Pandit Nikhil Ghosh, who learnt the tabla from Ustad Amir Hussain Khan for 25 years.

On: February 19, 6.30 pm
At: Little Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 66223724

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