Curated By: Mandar Karanjkar
This exhibition showcases some of the rare music pieces by Rehmat Khan Saheb, the legendary vocalist of Gwalior Gharana.
Rehmat Khan, also revered as ‘Bhu Gandharva’ was born in 1852 to Ustad Haddu Khan of Gwalior Gharana. Gifted with a beautiful and musical voice, he started accompanying his father from a very young age. After demise of Haddu Khan, Rehmat Khan roamed across north India, performing as a street musician. He finally settled in Beneras.
In late nineteenth century, he came in contact with VIshnupant Chhatre. Vishnupant offered Rehmat Khan a position of musician in his circus company. Under the patronage of Vishupant, Rehmat Khan performed for many princely states. At the beginning of nineteenth century, he settled in Kurundwad, a small in present Sangli district of Maharashtra state.
After death of Vishnupant, Rehmat Khan completely stopped performing. With some persuasion, he recorded a few record for the Gramophone Company at Bombay (Mumbai).
Rehmat Khan’s voice was full of energy and yet fully under his command. His ‘Akar’ was exceptional and can be experienced in the short recordings that are available. The first recording is a 78 RPM record of his where he is singing a drut composition in Raga Yaman.
While listening to the recording, the prominent feature which one notices is the thrust that he puts at the beginning of any Alap or Taan. It is interesting to see how his voice consistently moves across all the three octaves without losing the ‘Akar’ In the second clip, he has sung Raga Shuddha Kalyan.
Here is another recording of Rehmat Khan, retrieved from a 78 RPM record where he is singing a composition in Raga Malkauns in Madhyalaya Teental. The ease and command with which his voice goes from lower to higher octaves is phenomenal. Interestingly, it carries same weight and thrust in all the octaves.
Contemporary musicians like Abdul Karim Khan, Bhaskar Bua Bakhle, D.V. Paluskar and others were great admirers of his music and his music had influenced the singing of many other contemporary musicians.
Here is a short clipping of his performance in Kolkata containing two Ragas, one of them (the last one) being a very beautiful rendition of Bhairavi. His voice magnetically and with ease touches the Pancham in the Taar octave and comes down, intensifying the emotion.
Rehmat Khan passed away in 1922 in Kurundwad.