(Last Updated on : 07/06/2012)
Patiala is considered a branch of the Delhi gharana. Though essentially a sarangi gharana, the Patiala style achieved its all-round distinction and excellence in the hands of its greatest and yet-to-be-surpassed genius, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1901-1969). The founders of this gharana were the brothers Ali Baksh (1850-1920) and Fateh Ali (1850-1909), popularly known as 'Aliya-Fattu'. They had learnt music from Miyan Kallu, a well-known sarangi player in the Patiala court, who also taught them dhrupad. The Aliya-Fattu pair, also popularly called 'Karnail' (Colonel) and 'Jarnail' (General) owing to their uncompromisingly powerful way of singing extremely fast taans, were popular performers. Bade Ghulam's father Ali Baksh Kasurwale, learnt under both Fateh Ali and Miyan Kallu.
Bade Ghulam was initially trained by his father and later by Miyan Kallu. Yet Bade Ghulam belongs to that class of extraordinary singers, the dazzle of whose native gifts by far exceeded what he received from the tradition he inherited. His style and approach are to this very day synonymous with the colourful and zesty Patiala style. Next to Abdul Karim Khan, it was he who made a tremendous impact in the conservative South during the 1950's. Bade Ghulam is also credited with fashioning the Punjab-ang style of singing thumri. His proficiency in light classical forms, more than his other innate gifts, paved the way for his deification in the hearts of innumerable numbers in this country.
Following his death, Bade Ghulam's gifted son, Munnawar Ali Khan, continued the legacy until his death in 1989. Today singers like Jagdish Prasad, the Pakistani representatives, Fateh Ali, Ammant Ali and Hameed Ali Khan, Ajoy Chakravorty and the dazzling duo Javaad and Mazhar Ali Khan continue the Patiala legacy.
Some of the distinguishing features of the Patiala style are:
A fluent and exceedingly appealing style of singing that emphasis the correct enunciation of swaras. This gives the style a sensuously aesthetic touch.
The use of the catchy and intricate tappa singing style is evident in fast figures, as are the use of swift and voluted sargam patterns. Their sargams possess an exhilarating swing and astonishing mellifluousness.
The Patiala taans are extremely enthralling, given the briskness and vigour with which they are executed. In fact, it has been called a taan-bazi style, because it uses a variety of fast figures and ornamentation fir the sake of appeal.
Equal emphasis given to swara and laya.
Proficiency in singing light classical forms like thumri, dadra and bhajan.