Riyaaz and Taleem

The importance of “riyaaz while acquiring “taleem“,  cannot be stressed enough while learning classical music, and this is the central theme of this post.

Several interesting sequences of different kinds, have been picturized in Hindi movies, of the student of music performing riyaaz or acquiring ‘taleem’. Needless to say, these make up some memorable songs, and the musical talents of the composers are on display. I have chosen songs where the artiste is performing riyaaz with a tanpura or learning from his/her Guru.

Mian Tansen performing riyaaz

The legend has it that there has been no greater spectacle in Hindustani music than Mian Tansen performing riyaaz.

We start the section with this memorable clip

1. Tori Jai Jai KartarBaiju Bawra (1952) – Naushad

An immortal rendering rendered flawlessly and with such grace by Ustad Amir Khan, bringing out the beautiful nuances of Puriya Dhanashree.  It is important to note that Puriya Dhanashree is usually rendered in the evening time, which was when Tansen is known to have performed his riyaaz. This is Ustad Amir Khan’s interpretation of Tansen’s rendering.

2.Prem Jogan Ban Ke Mughal-E-Azam(1960)- Naushad

This is Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s interpretation of Tansen’s riyaaz. If Amir Khan’s was a simple, silky and free flowing interpretation, Bade’s is one full of ornamentation, in raga Sohini-also sung in late evening,early night. At 3:46 we hear a kink into Paraj (I think). The pakeezgee of riyaaz is lost in the picturization, but I think the song was created for the situation.

Sri Parrikar, in his article on Multani commented aptly that if Ustad Amir Khan’s was the Taj Mahal of Multani, then Bade’s was the Mount Everest of Multani. I hope that gives the readers an idea of the different gharanas in play).

3.Baat Chalat– Rani Rupmati(1957) – S.N.Tripathi

A superb rendering by Chaonkar and Rafi, set to Bhairavi. S.N.Tripathi was a master at composing chaste classical songs, and he is at his best here. This is a taleem session of Baz Bahadur his guru, the scene looks quite convincing.

4.Garjat Barsat  Barsat Ki Raat(1960)Roshan

A great adaptation of a traditional bandish in Gaud Malhar, rendered melodiously by Suman Kalyanpur and Kamal Barot. Shama and Ratna Bhushan are shown performing riyaaz.

5. Man Mohana Bade Jhoote Seema(1955) Shankar Jaikishen

A lovely composition in Jaijaiwanti, rendered brilliantly by Lata. Nutan has sustained a lot of close-ups in this song.

6.Manmohan Me Tumhi Kaise Kahoon (1964)S.D.Burman

Clothed in Adana, the song is melodious, the sequence has Manmohan Krishna as the unlikely Guru and Biswajeet and Nanda as the shishyas. There are close-ups of all the three of them, and they look convincing, This is Adana with the Dhaivat.

7.Madhura Madhura – Sangeet Samrat Tansen(1961)- S.N.Tripathi

A long riyaaz sequence, there is great music. The clip opens with an outstanding rendering of Bageswari by Pandarinath Kolhapure and then some riyaaz sessions in Bhairav and Megh Malhar, delivered by Manna Dey.(the raga varnan contains the  name of the ragas). Megh Malhar is characterised by M-R-P phrases with Shadaj as the vadi and a weak rishab.  The usage of Rishab in this Megh Malhar (khada Re) is not characteristic of Megh Malhar.

8. Rag Prabhat – Goonj Uthi Shehnai((1959) – Vasant Desai

A brilliant Ragamala by two legends of Indian music in full flow – Ustad Amir Khan on the vocals and Ustad Bismillah Khan on the Shehnai. Some mesmerizing stuff by Bismallah khan. This ragas in the  represent ‘din ke prahar’. Starts off Bhatiyar (dawn), Ramkali (morning) , Desi Todi(late morning), a superb Shudh Sarang (noon)(notice how Bismillah takes the lead – simply brilliant passages), a fleeting glimpse of Multani(late afternoon), Yaman (evening), Bagesree (early night), Chandrakauns(late night).

9.Darbari Kanada Alap – Baiju Bawra((1952) – Naushad

Baiju enters Tansen’s house to kill him, but gets lost in the melody of Tansen’s music.  Tansen’s taans echoing everywhere is very interesting. Perfect shruti alignment in the alap.

I am concluding this post with what I consider the benchmark rendering of “Miyan Ki Malhar”, a raga created by “Miyan” Tansen. This is an old PTV recording (1972). Music has no bounds, and not limited by man-made boundaries.

A very relaxed and classy rendering by Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and Farida Khanum. (Note the lyrics mention Megh Malhar, but the tune is Miyan Ki Malhar).



  1. Anu Warrier said,

    February 19, 2012 at 4:03 am

    Karthik, love the selections. It would be nice if you expanded a bit on the raagas themselves, which will allow philistines like myself to understand the differences. (I think my husband has given up trying to explain this to me!)

    The Bade Ghulam Ali Khan rendition from Mughal-e-Azam is one of my favourites – for the very reason that you said reduced the purity of the riyaaz – the picturisation.

    From a pure ‘song’ point of view, my favourites would be Garjat Barsat and Manmohana.

    • February 19, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Thanks Anu,glad that you liked them. I will talk about individual ragas and carry out exclusive articles on them in the future.

      I also love Bade’s rendering, but not the sequence…Hmmm., I think I am too conservative 🙂

      • SSW said,

        February 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

        In my opinion, I wish this rendition had not been used as the background. It overpowers the picturisation. I wish the background had been instrumental, with a less overpowering instrument. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s voice is too powerful for the scene, it overpowers everything when it really should have played a supportive role.

        It is lovely to listen to, it should have remained a aural experience.

      • Bhuvanesh said,

        February 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        I personally didn’t like “Prem Jogan” that much. I like the “Shubh Din Aayo” in Rageshree better. Perhaps I simply have a bias toward Rageshree. Sohni, to me, seems not much more than a song.

      • February 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

        Welcome to my blog Bhuvanesh 🙂
        I too prefer “Shubh Din Aaye”, it has Bade in full flow. I like the picturization of the song as well.

  2. dustedoff said,

    February 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Like Anu, I’m afraid the bit about the different raagas went completely over my head. But I liked the songs you selected – some were new to me, and some, though I’d heard, I’d forgotten.

    Even as I began reading the introduction to your post, the song that automatically came to mind was Garjat barsat saawan aayo re. I love that song – it’s perfect. But then, what was not in the music of Barsaat ki Raat? 🙂

  3. harvey said,

    February 19, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Being totally uneducated in and ignorant of ragas, it is still a great pleasure to read through your post. Lovely songs!
    WAs nice to meet milan ruut aayi with Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and Farida Khanum again.

    Would sakhi ri sun bole papeeha us paar from Miss Mary [1957] qualify for this list?

    The next three songs don’t fit in your time category but I’ll put them in since I like them so much

    ae sakhi radhike from Jurmana

    aayo kahan se ghanshyam from Buddha Mil Gaya

    kahan se aaye badra from Chashm-E-Buddoor

    I have no idea if the songs are based on pure ragas or not, so forgive me if they aren’t. Hope you will tell me that.

    BTW, has the rendition of these different ragas changed with the years? Can the renditions in the films be same as done by Tansen for example? If yes, what has changed?

  4. February 28, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Karthik ji,
    Once again,you people are great,how you get ideas for novel situations ! My God !!
    All the above songs,including the once posted by harvey ji are very nice to hear.
    Rayaaz is Practice and Taaleem is Education.
    Songs depicting atleast two participants,the guru and shishya would have justified the title,according to me.
    while the guru does the Riyaaz,the disciple gets the Taalim,I think.
    -Arunkumar Deshmukh

  5. Anu Warrier said,

    March 10, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Karthik, long time no post. What happened?

    • Chitrapatsangeet said,

      March 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

      Hi Anu,
      I am on vacation and have had no access to mail and net for sometime. I will post soon 🙂

  6. chomu said,

    July 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    good. i m learning to play casio musical keyboard

  7. kamlesm said,

    November 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

    there is one song in Umrao jaan also where girls learn from their ustad and in the end sequence of song both girls are shown as grownups….
    nice blog…

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