The ‘A’ one star of Hyderabad
The ‘A’ One Star of Hyderabad, Popular Tabla Artist, Ustad Shaik Dawood. Popular tabla artist from Hyderabad and a disciple of Ustad Shaik Dawood, who has also played along with great maestros such as Ustad Rashid Khan, Pt. Birju Maharaj, Pt. MS Gopal Krishna , Ustad Imrat Khan, brother of Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pt. Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Ustad Ghulam Ali, Ustad Mehdi Hassan, Shobha Gurtu, Sivamani and many stalwarts of India; Najmuddin Javed has proved many a times that he is a class apart. The recent conferring of the top most grade as a radio artiste is a shot in the arm for this young musician.
Najmuddin Javed, the promising young artiste of All India Radio, becomes the second tabla artiste, next only to the legendary Ustad Shaik Dawood to have received the status of ‘A Top’ grade artiste from Hyderabad
Popular tabla artist from Hyderabad and a disciple of Ustad Shaik Dawood, who has also played along with great maestros such as Ustad Rashid Khan, Pt. Birju Maharaj, Pt. MS Gopal Krishna , Ustad Imrat Khan, brother of Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pt. Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Ustad Ghulam Ali, Ustad Mehdi Hassan, Shobha Gurtu, Sivamani and many stalwarts of India; Najmuddin Javed has proved many a times that he is a class apart. The recent conferring of the top most grade as a radio artiste is a shot in the arm for this young musician.
The rare honour is not easy to come by. The last time it was given to a Hyderabadi instrumentalist was in 1955, when Javed’s Guru Ustad Sheikh Dawood received it. Every year All India Radio(AIR) calls for applications for this grade. The artiste is expected to perform on a set raga and rhythm (taal) for one hour and a panel of seven judges, decide the artiste who is worth the grade. This is in addition to the contribution of the artiste to the art through his career which also forms a strong recommendation for the honour.
“After receiving the news of getting the grade, I could not sleep for a week. I was happy and also scared of the responsibility it brings upon me. Then I remembered this sher: Main Apne Phann Ki Bulandi Se Kaam Lunga... Mujhe Maqam Na Do Main Khud Maqam Lunga..!!” says Javed.
When an artiste receives a distinction, in all the adulation one forgets the enormous amount of sacrifice and hard work that goes into making the artiste what he is. The simple, down-to-earth Javed has a long story of dedication and tradition.
“My father Wazir Muhammad Javed was a singer with All India Radio, but he also knew to play tabla. He was a student of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. My mother Kaniz Fatima learnt music from Begum Akhtar. She used to sing Deccani dholak songs for the Nizam’s Deccan radio and later sang for the AIR too. She sang songs for the local Hyderabadi movie ‘Gullu Dada Returns’ recently, which became very popular. My father wanted me to be a singer like him. He used to practice raag Bhairav on tanpura and I used to practice along with him. I used to listen to film songs on radio like ‘Aiye mere dil ke chain’ and ‘Madhuban mein radhika nache re’. Gradually I developed interest in playing tabla. And it was my good fortune that I could learn under the tutelage of Ustad Shaik Dawood.”
Sharing memories with the legendary Guru, “Ustadji was a gracious person. I never heard him criticise anyone. I learnt under him for ten years and the experience was wonderful. Whenever I used to express any doubt, he used to clarify each point. He believed in sharing knowledge. He used to say: Knowledge makes one prudent, prudence begets worthiness. Worthiness creates wealth and enrichment, enrichment leads to right conduct, right conduct brings contentment.”
A chance meeting with Ghazal singer Talat Aziz led him to Mumbai and he started accompanying artistes like Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali etc., “Once Kalyanji of Kalyanji Anandji fame was in the audience when I was playing tabla for Mehdi Hassan saab and Kalyanji loved my performance. He thought that I am from Pakistan. Later when he came to know about me, he invited me over to his place. During that time Javed Ali and Sadhana Sargam were young kids learning the art of playback singing from him. I received a lot of support and affection from seniors like Kalyanji and I was planning to settle down in Mumbai and Bollywood. But my father had taken ill and since I am the only son to my parents, my mother had asked me to come back Hyderabad and I came back to Hyderabad, never to return. I started working with AIR.”
Whenever Javed performs, be it solo or as an accompanying artiste, he is extremely passionate and always gives his best. There have been many satisfying moments of his career, but a few most memorable ones have been his driving force to make himself better every time. Javed performed with many famous artistes but his unforgettable experience, he says, “I got the opportunity to play tabla for Pandit Birju Maharaj which was a great privilege for me. I still remember – it was 14 years back when I had to do jugalbandi with Birju Maharaj without rehearsals at Necklace Road in Hyderabad. He said “Son, I know that you’ll play. I have faith in you. I will read the rhythm in the mike; you can listen to it and play.” And it turned out to be one of my best performances. Even panditji praised me in front of the huge audience. He spoke about me on stage for five minutes. Memorable moments like this make the life of an artiste worth its while.”
Javed believes that it is the love of his audience, students and well wishers that has brought him to this stage and the honour of being the top most grade artiste, he considers more a responsibility than an achievement and hopes to live up to the expectations. However, to the music lovers, Najmuddin Javed is the pride of Hyderabad.
- FM Saleem