Hansal Mehta makes us an Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan playlist to remember him by
The filmmaker, who trained under the legendary Hindustani vocalist for four years, shares his favourite works of his guru
Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, the legendary Hindustani vocalist and winner of three Padma awards and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar, died at age 89 on Sunday. He leaves behind a rich legacy of Indian classical and contemporary music.
Khan mentored some of the best-known names in Indian music today, from Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle to Sonu Nigam and Hariharan. One of his students, incidentally, was filmmaker Hansal Mehta, director of films like Shahid and Aligarh and the recent web-series Scam 1992.
"I was 15 when I first attended a concert by Khan saab," Mehta told Lounge over phone. "Afterwards, I walked up to him after and told him I wanted to learn [Hindustani music] too."
Khan took Mehta under his wing and trained him for four years. "I moved to Pune for studies and eventually, moved away from riyaz. It remained an ongoing guilt," says Mehta.
Nevertheless, the two stayed in touch. "I always regarded him as my guru," says Mehta. "The love that I have for music, and the artistic integrity I wish to bring forth, I learnt from him."
At our request, Mehta picked four of his favourite compositions of his guru and shared what makes them special. For the uninitiated, it would serve as a fine primer on the works of the legendary musician.
'Jhoola Kinne Daala' from 'Umrao Jaan'
"This is a quick intro to Khan-saab. He's sung it in the film Umrao Jaan, and it's one of his more popular works. It's also beautifully rendered."
"Raga Deepak is one of the lesser-heard works of Khan saab. It’s unique, and a very unadulterated representation of his gharana. There’s a certain robustness, a silken flowing development in the raag. I’m too small a person to say this but it's one of his best accomplishments."
"This one is special because it’s among the first raga he taught me. I spent about a year practicing it. But even after that, when you hear the master render it, you realize there's such an ocean in there... He was a complete reservoir of knowledge."
'Ghazal ka Mausam', the debut album of singer Hariharan
"This was released in 1981, when Hariharan was starting out in his career. There are some remarkable compositions here, which shows you what a great teacher Khan saab was."