Parveen Sultana

It is said that geniuses are born once in a century. But without the required encouragement, they fade away into the oblivion. It is so true like what Thomas Grey had mentioned in his elegy, those precious pearls lie buried forever unnoticed. So, it is necessary that even born geniuses need the required encouragement for them to blossom and get any recognition. Any talented artiste needs an Ideal environment at home and a proper guide or Guru to set the foundation.

It is so true with Begum Parveen Sultana. Her father Ikramul Majid and her Grand father Mohammed Najeef Khan were ardent music lovers and well known musicians. Mohammed Najeef Khan was from Afghanistan and though a flourishing businessman was a talented Rabab player and would go into the jungles to practice. Her father Ikramul Majid was also a popular musician, a radio artiste who had his training under Gul Mohammed Khan of Karachi and later under Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan. Obviously Parveen was cradled to sleep as a baby with the music of her father and the melody of Rabab. The echo of Rabab did play an important role in Parveens voice training giving it that rare sweetness.

Little Parveen began her arduous training under her father at an early age of five. She had no time to play about as other children do at her age. She gave her first classical recital at the tender age of twelve years at the Sadarang Music Festival where she captured her audience with her extraordinary voice and rendering of the raagas with the perfection of a matured artiste. Later her father put her under the guidance of renowned maestro Acharya Chinmoy Lahiri. Living in Gauhati in Assam, she had to fly with her father to Calcutta to receive her rigorous wee} endtraining under her Guru. Long hours of practice continued at home. Coming from an orthodox muslim family, there was great resentment in allowing a girl to sing. But she received all the support from her father. Also living in a muslim colony, the people expressed their displeasure in hearing long hours of monotonous practice; by pelting stones at the windows and breaking the glass panes. Yet young Parveen did not loose heart and continued towards her goal. Surely such perseverence had to bring the success that waited around the corner for her. It was flight towards one success to another, enthralling fully packed audiences, wherever she gave a recital, in all parts of the Globe.

A greater event had to happen. She found the Guru who further laid down a much deeper foundation that gave a new dimension to her singing, giving it the required mastery of raagas and voice culture that could expand her range to three and a half octaves. Ustad Dilshad Khan, her Guru and her erstwhile husband is no stranger to the Music world. A gifted genius like Parveen had in Ustadji, an Ideal Guru and mentor who chistled out the cabashon diamond intricately and minutely giving it the lustre and glow that could astound one who saw it. Parveen herself has mentioned on many occasions that she could never have got a better guide and a Guru than her husband Ustad Dilshad Khan. if such a guidance is not given, like a rudderless boat, even a talented artiste, :an drift away from the true value of real Music.

Parveen herself was trained according to Patiala Gharana, but with Ustadji's guidance the real essence of other Gharanas flowed into her Music, that was not only melody but also diligent following of the grammar too. The most remarkable aspect of her Music is that she handles with utter ease a simple raaga as well as the most complicated ones. From slow moving Alaap to the swift racing of Taans and Bol Taans touching a difficult Swar patterns which with just a flicker can land one in Besur, Parveen sweeps with great confidence, highlighting the most beautiful essence of the t:aag. Whether she sings a Khayal, or Tumri or a Bhajan, Parveen keeps the form in its pristine purity without mingling, which is a difficult task. A Listener will be astounded to hear her Sapat Taans, Gamaks, Taan Palat, and Jamjama to mention few of her remarkable achievements.

It is not surprising that an outstanding artiste like Parveen sultana had awards showered on her like Monsoon showers. At her childhood she was called melody Queen. Her first LP record on Hindustani Music was for the Festival of India. Many cassettes have been released as solo and Jugal Bandi with Ustad Dilshad Khan. since her childhood/awards followed one after another. In 1970 she got the award of "Cleopatra of Music", in 1972 she was titled as "Poetess of Music" and the Prestigious Presidential award of "Padmashree". Incidentally she is the youngest performing artiste to get this award. Gandhrva Kalanidhi in 1980, Mia Tansen award in 1986, followed by Sangeet Samragni award in 1994 by the Assam Govt., are some of the awards bestowed on her. Begum Parveen Sultana also has the credit & honour of having been invited to participate in many Music festivals such as - Summer Solstice Festival in New York in 1981, Avignon Festival in paris in 1984, festival of India in U.S.S.R in 1987, INDIA Festival in Denmark in 1990, and INDIAN MUSIC Festival in United Kingdom in 1991. Besides this he has also recorded songs for Deutche Radio, Radio France, New York television, Moscow television etc.

Both Begum Parveen Sultana and Ustad Dilshad Khan have been travelling widely around the world and wherever they have performed, they took the audience by storm and kept them in awe stricken trance with their magical voices, vast knowledge and their masterly handling of various known and rare raagas, Tumris and Bhajans. Begum Parveen Sultana and Ustad Dilshad Khan have given more than 700 concerts in India and over 400 concerts around the world including concerts in New York Town Hall, Logan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Auditorium, Tchaikovsky Auditorium & Kremlin Hall, Musee Goumet Auditorium (Paris), Laurenturn Auditorium (Los Angeles), Wilshire Elbe Theatre, (London) etc.

It is indeed very creditable that a rare and gifted artiste like Parveen Sultana could rise above all obstacles in her environment and continue with her long and arduous Sadhana and emerge today as the most distinguished artiste perhaps with no equal.

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Image Courtesy : The Hindu

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