Saturday, December 13, 2014

USTAD ALI MOHD SHEIKH : A GREAT FOLK ( CHHAKRI )SINGER FROM KASHMIR


                                                                              


USTAAD ALI MOHD SHEIKH ( 1916-2006 )

NOT CHHAKRI , HE SANG THE HERITAGE AND CULTURE OF KASHMIR…….
( Photo Courtesy Sh.Dalip Langoo . This photo was clicked in 1988 by Dr Rahul Kaul nephew of Sh.Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir Srinagar )

When my sister’s Mother in law heard that a marriage had to be solemnized in our family , she suggested that we should engage noted Kashmiri folk ( Chhakri ) singer Ali Mohd Sheikh ( 1916-2006 ) for Mehndiraat function . She was a great admirer of Ali Mohd Sheikh. It was  early November 1989 and armed militancy had arrived in kashmir valley . Uncertainty , fear and panic had become a part of the day to day routine. Marriages were brief devoid of celebration and merriment . We had no option but to go for a Mehndiraat function without the usual folk singers . Ali Mohd Sheikh could not be invited for obvious reasons. I personally missed the traditional dance , Music and Chhakri that kashmiris usually have on Mehndiraat functions.
Ali Mohd sheikh was a master of *Chhakri style of kashmiri folk singing . A Sangeet Natak Academy awardee , he had travelled to many places in India and abroad ( Tajikistan , USA ,Japan and some Latin American countries ) popularizing Chhakri style of kashmiri singing . Sheikh had also mesmerized the audience by his singing in Festival Of Asian arts at Hongkong held in 1988. About this Festival, Music composer Dalip Langoo Adds,
“Ustad Ali Mohd Sheikh not only performed there as a folk singer from Kashmir but he also performed in a small dance drama sequence created by Noted Composer Krishan Langoo ji. He acted as Moulvi sahib before a huge gathering at one of the prestigious shows held in Hong Kong. ”

Sheikh also sang for the Radio and Television creating two generations of admirers .
Ali Mohd Sheikh was born and brought up in village Hajjin falling in North Kashmir. And such singers do not sing songs alone ; They are the torch bearers who spread culture and heritage through music .
As person , he was simple and focused . Flaunting a serious appearance , sheikh generally wore elegant white or off white Shalwar kameez , waist coat and a cap ( Central Asian Karakulli type ). 
He had his own group of accompanying musicians and did regular Riyaz creating New Melodies and Rhythms .He would mostly sing Sufi poets like Ahad Zargar , Sochhi Kraal , Samad Mir, Wahab Khaar and Shams Faqeer .

I must have heard eight or nine compositions of Ali Mohd Sheikh and party . Every composition done to perfection . Perfection in selecting the Kalaam ( poetry ), perfection in handling and lacing the words with music and perfection in delivery . I have seen him playing Harmonium and Sarangi .
To my readers I would suggest listening just three composition of this Grand master . Even One is enough to establish his versatility .
(1)
Faqeeri Kaabaah O Mehraab Chhumayii
Faqeeri Taabavunn Aftaab Chhumayii...
faqeeri Misl e Gulshan Aaav Fael Fael
Faqeeri Runga Rungayii Jaama Vallie Vallie
Faqeeri Dard Poshan Mushq e Amber
Faqeeri Vasl Sheeshan Assaluquyii Moi......
Faqeeri Meemun Doann Munz basithh Haayii
fareeqi Jalwa Maaraan Andhera Neiburr
Fareeqi "Ahad Zargar " Chhuyii Tche Barsurr ."
(2)
“ Akh Tche ta Beyii Ba ganzar Ma Baa
Ha Baa Yi Chhuyii Gumaanaai ”
(3)
“Gaah Gaah Me Trovmayee Khyon Ta Tchonuyii
Kaansi Vonuyii No
Taem Paan Awezaan Tchhunuiyii
Kaansi Vonuyii No”
I also heard him sing " Suyii Doadh Chhumm Jigaruss " Vaav Baerr Zulfi Khumm Baliye " , "shaam sondarrun bara karrnuss ta lo lo -kaamdeevus ha logg par-muss ta lo lo “ , Grayii Maaraan Kunn Doorun Lo Lo” , “ Chhakhayii Hooro Pari Dilbar Dilbari “ “ Rinda Poshmaal Gindanay Draayii Lo Lo “ and “ Valo Maa Tchull Ba Maaraai Paan “
Any person who has listened to his rendering of “ Faqeeri Kabaah O Mehraab Chhumaai ” need not listen more of his singing so as to call him the greatest exponent of Chhakri Style of kashmiri Folk singing .

Unknown to many of his admirers , Sheikh had an insightful knowledge of kashmiri sufiana singing as well .I have seen him delivering some brief but soulful lines for his audience in pure kashmiri sufiana style . I quote two lines that he sang in a function at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar long back ….
"Boazu Myaan Zaar - Zaaray e Paar _ Awaara Kar Thuss . "
"Listen my woes - Listen my pleas . I am undone and roaming aimlessly in love”
( Autar Mota )


PS

(1)

*CHHAKRI style of singing is believed to have originated from SHAKTRI ( Chorus singing by Aryans after a Yagya ) ) mentioned in RIGVEDA . It is a form of chorus or group singing by males with Matka ( Noatt ) , Rabaab , Tumbaknaari , Sarangi as accompanying instruments . Harmonium is a later addition to Chhakri singing .The lead singer sits in the centre with others surrounding him. Rajatangini also makes mention of a stylized singing in Kashmir wherein metal utensils were used . So powerful and foot tapping are the beats of this style of singing that every listener is tempted to stand up and dance in musical rhythm. It is a popular form of folk  singing  that is  put to practice during weddings and other functions by Muslims and Pandits from Kashmir valley  .

(2)
The Hong kong event of 1988  was wonderfully conceptualized , designed and executed by Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir ) And composer Krishan Ji Langoo .Two DVDs loaded with recording of this Gala Musical event were given to me by Krishan Ji Langoo and these remain as a precious Gift with me .
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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

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