I remember everything about Vilayet Khan sahib’s riyaz. When, at night, father and I would complete our riyaz and go upstairs, he would start. All the doors and windows would be closed.
We would finish by 10:30-11:00. I would accompany father. Father would do the riyaz. After finishing, we would go upstairs.
This was in 1935?
No, this was ’44, ’45, ’46 – these three years. The gentleman was so nice…he didn’t cause any disturbance to anybody in the household. Father would go up first when we finished. He used to say, “Now I shall play.” He was so gentle and polite.
It would begin from 10:30pm?
Yes, at night. We would go upstairs by eleven. Vilayet Khan would sit down to play. We were a joint family then. My aunts…everyone called him by name. They used to say, “Look, Vilayet has started to play. Then, early in the morning, father and I would come downstairs to practice. Vilayet Khan would say, “Now you play, I’ll go lie down for a while.” What did he sleep on? He wasn’t fancy at all. He rested his head on the bire of the tabla. He would practice all night. What did he practice? The same palta. The same jhala. It was like he was polishing the music. (Demonstrates). When father went to the washroom at night or to the courtyard, he would see Vilayet Khan sitting in the same spot and playing. Sometimes (demonstrates) it would go up by one point. This was their riyaz.
It was a remarkable performance. In 1952-53, Nazakat and Salamat came to Kolkata. Onkarnath Thakur brought him. When Nazakat and Salamat were young, they had trained under Ghulam Ali Khan sahib. They learnt from when he was around ten years old till the age of thirteen.
Under Bade Ghulam Ali?
Ghulam Ali Khan sahib came in 1952-53. Lala babu said to my father, Montu Banerjee, you don’t know these people
how old were they at the time? Twenty-one or twenty-two
come with Maharaj in the evening. Come and hear Nazakat Salamat.” I thought, who is Nazakat Salamat? Although I was young, I knew many names – Ghulam Ali Khan sahib, Faiyaz Khan saib, Amir Khan sahib, but Nazakat Salamat? Father said, “Since Lala babu himself has invited us, we must go.” They made me sit on the stage because I was small.
The two brothers arrived with the surmandal. On the tabla was Anokhe Lal ji, and the famous Gopal Mishra of Benares was playing the sarengi.
They began the malkosh at eight in the evening. It was a familiar raaga, there was no trouble. Suddenly we realised it was past ten thirty, and they were still singing.
Oh my god! I was sitting in the front, and who wasn’t there? Ghulam Ali Khan sahib was there, Onkarnath Thakur was there. Everyone! And they were all spell-bound! Then I thought to myself, so this is Nazakat Salamat. Since then, I have met them many times, they has sung and played.