ROSHAN ARA BEGUM
ROSHAN ARA BEGUM
Roshan Ara Begum (1917 – 1982) became one of the most important woman in the history of Hindustani classical music. Pakistanis revere her as Mallika-e-Mauseeqi or Queen of Music. As the daughter of Ustad Abdul Haqq Khan, Roshan Ara linked through her cousin Ustad Abdul Karim Khan to Kirana Gharana, a famous musical tradition, of whom she was the most outstanding disciple. Born in Calcutta in or around 1917, Roshan Ara Begum visited Lahore during her teens to participate in musical soirées held at the residences of affluent citizens of Chun Peer in Mohalla Peer Gillaanian at Mochi Gate. During her occasional visits to the city she also broadcast songs from the then All India Radio station, and her name was announced as Bombaywali Roshan Ara Begum. She had acquired this popular nomenclature because she shifted to Bombay in the late 1930s to live near Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, from whom she took lessons in Hindustani classical music for fifteen years.
Before her migration to Pakistan, Roshan Ara had already become acclaimed as the greatest exponent of Kirana Gharana style of khayal singing in undivided India. She embodied in her art all the exquisite tonal qualities and attributes of her mentor’s delicate style of classical vocalization. She proved equally good at alap while delineating raags and also in taking breezy taans in the strand of her Ustad. She was very conscious of her dignity and status and never allowed herself to be emotionally swayed. But when the recording of her Ustad’s music was played, her eyes filled with tears.
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