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Gharana goes groovy

Being the ninth generation descendents of the celebrated Patiala gharana family, not many expected Wali Hamid Ali Khan and his two brothers to spearhead a pop-rock fusion band in Pakistan. But Raga Boyz, as the trio calls themselves, are determined to make classical music more palatable to the youth.

music Updated: Feb 17, 2012 15:34 IST
Nirmika Singh
Patiala gharana

Being the ninth generation descendents of the celebrated Patiala gharana family, not many expected Wali Hamid Ali Khan and his two brothers to spearhead a pop-rock fusion band in Pakistan. But Raga Boyz, as the trio calls themselves, are determined to make classical music more palatable to the youth.

“When we started out, there were many objections about the kind of music we did. Our father too was against us experimenting with classical music, but once he realised that we stuck to our roots, he’s been supporting us whole-heartedly,” says Wali, lead vocalist.

Like his brothers and band-members Inam Ali Khan and Nayab Ali Khan, Wali learnt music at an early age, but he confesses that he always wanted to do things differently, “Besides the music we learnt as kids, I was inclined towards other forms too.

With our band, we are trying to bridge the gap between the pure classical and contemporary genres,” he says. In their songs, while Wali experiments across various styles through his vocals, his brothers embellish the compositions with their strong classical footing. The band also features rapper Ahmed Hasan Khan.

The Lahore-based band is currently working on their new album, comprising 14 songs. “It will be multi-genre album, with elements of pop, R’n’B and thumris and world music. Some labels in India have approached us and we’ll be finalising things soon,” says Wali, whose cousin, Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, is a popular playback singer in Bollywood.

Ask them if they would like to take their cousin’s path and Wali says, “India has some amazing talent. We would love to work with singers like Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal in the future.”

Musical link Wali, Inam and Nayab of Raga Boyz, are the ninth generation descendents of the Patiala gharana, a style within Hindustani classical music, popular for ghazals, thumri and khyal.

Their lineage traces back to Ustad Kaluji, who was the ‘darbar gayake’ or court musician of Maharaja Bhupindar Sing. Kaluji’s legacy was carried on by his sons Ustad General Ali Baksh and Ustad Barey Fateh Ali Khan.

The family has also been the recipient of two Sitara-e-Imtiaz awards, one of the highest civilian awards in Pakistan. Some of the noted singers of Patiala gharana in India are Parveen Sultana, Ajoy and Kaushiki Chakraborty.

Watch Raga Boyz, perform on February 19, from 7 pm onwards at Bandra Fort. Entry free.