Pandit Jasraj’s father was court singer of Seventh Nizam; he learnt his music basics in Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Legendary Hindustani singer Pandit Jasraj, whose career spanned nearly eight decades, breathed his last in New Jersey at 5:15 am on Monday. The 90-year old singer, who suffered a cardiac arrest, is survived by his wife Madhura and two children Shaarang Dev Pandit and Durga Jasraj— both musicians.

Considered as one of the great musical legends of India, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasraj belonged to the Mewati Gharana. His last performance was in April this year, online.

From Jambagh to Nampally

Jasraj’s father Pandit Motiram came to Hyderabad to sing at the court of the Seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan. Jasraj once quoted, “We used to stay in the Jambagh area. Hours before he was to be announced as the Royal Musician, his voice trailed off.” After his father’s death, the family shifted to Nampally which was known then for Hyderabad’s main Railway Station.

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All of his education was done in Vivek Vardhini High School which had been established by Marathi speaking community in the Nizam’s State.  He had recalled several time that he would bunk the school to sit in a nearby small restaurant and listen to his favorite Begum Akhtar’s ghazal — ‘Deewana Banana Hai Toh…’ — which was played there over and over again.

Though he had taken an initial training in singing from his father, Jasraj was essentially trained by brothers Pandit Maniram and Pratap Narayan. Due to the fascination in the city, he trained in Tabla and later accompanied his brothers in their concerts. He also performed in Diwan Deodhi, the then Prime Minister Salar Jung, a few times.

The changed political scenario in Hyderabad made the entire family leave the city and shift to Sanand in Ahmedabad. His next stop was in Kolkata and 13 years later, in Mumbai.

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Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroh—Continuing the connect

Pandit Jasraj with her daughter Durga Jasraj in a 1977 concert.

In 1972, Pandit Jasraj began organizing an annual three-day music festival in Hyderabad, in memory of his late father and brother, which continued until 2019. The festival was held between November 27 and November 30 and on the final day, Jasraj would himself perform.

Every morning during his stay in Hyderabad, he would visit the graves of his father and brother in Amberpet Smashana Vaatika and paid a ‘sangeetanjali’ (musical tribute). He would also conduct free classes for beginners of Hindustani classical music.

Music lovers across the city, who fondly remember his association with Hyderabad, are mourning his demise.

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