Bhor Bhayee – Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

by Indrani Talukdar
(Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India)

A full-throated alaap studded with full-bodied notes bears the stamp of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s school of music - the Patiala Gharana – with its strong aesthetics. The album Bhor Bhayee by Sony Music contains four tracks, all dedicated to the Bhairav family.


Raga Bhairav, the somnolent melody of the morning awakens sleepers with its dreamy fingers. Soaked in the bhakti rasa Raga Bhairav works best during the morning in the gentleness of dawn. Khan Saheb’s rendition of Ayee Laree Bahar in the slow-tempoed ek tala is reminiscent of a serene bucolic morning in the Indian countryside. Purists might criticize him for his extra andolans and murkis in a raga that is considered very basic but it takes a maestro of Khan Saheb’s order to take it to higher realms.

Palakan Rakhun Moond Moond... in teen tala is sung in Nat Bhairav, a relatively fresh entrant into the Bhairav fold. Propagated by the late Ravi Shankar the raga employs a sampoorna or the full musical scale. This allied raga of the ponderous Bhairav is more frivolous and romantic compared to its parent raga. Infused with the Bilawal inspired night melody Bihag in its ascendant Raga Nat Bhairav is something of a malcontent in the pristine Bhairav pantheon and, for that reason, a little difficult to pull off. But Khan Sahib manages to do so with the stamp of his great legacy. Short alaaps being his forte, he firmly believed that the audience would not appreciate long ones. His taans showcase his Patiala finesse laced with Behram Khani dhrupad inputs.

For a musician who believed in constant improvisation the Thumri was an apposite genre. Who can forget Khan sahib’s immortal Jamuna ke teer in Mishra Bhairavi? Or Baju bund khuli khuli jaye...? The thumri in Raga Mishra Bhairav in the present collection is a special treat.

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s interpretation of the ethereal Anand Bhairav too, is an aural treat. This Bhatiyar like raga has the flat Nishad or the seventh in its descendant with the fourth or Madhyam assuming a powerful role in the raga’s format.

Born in a musical family in Kasur, now in Pakistan, Khan sahib started his musical gleanings early in life. At the tender age of seven he started learning the sarangi, the instrument believed to be the closest to the human voice. His early training under his uncle Kale Khan and his subsequent tutelage under the Patiala stalwarts Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan and Ustad Akhtar Hussain Khan served him well throughout his life. The present album is a must-listen for that reason.

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May 10, 2014
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by: Indrani Talukdar

Thanks Viala, it means a lot to me!

May 09, 2014
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by: vimala

I enjoyed your review as much as I enjoy Khan sahib's music.

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