Ustaad Rustam Of Patiala Gharana Leaves Audience Spellbound

Ustaad Rustam Of Patiala Gharana Leaves Audience Spellbound
Tagh’eer Lahore is a creative space founded by Nashmia Haroon with the aim of encouraging multidisciplinary happenings and events for music, language and visual art. This particular area allows for the arts to give back to the city of Lahore and where everyone is allowed to explore their artistic skill and integrity regardless of their profession or academic background.

Nashmia Haroon is a multidisciplinary visual artist by profession with origins in Painting and Photography and is a student of music for some years. During an interview, she says that Tagh’eer classical and traditional artists, primarily musicians but also art and crafts exhibitions as well. All of Tagh’eer’s activities are hosted at Nashmia’s home in Upper Mall Lahore. She further states that Tagh’eer had future events planned and encourages people to attend and take part in events.

Nashmia’s home during the event was tastefully set in the traditional style with a small stage and cushions for the musicians. The event began with Haider Rahman’s solo performance. Haider Rahman is a classically trained flautist who has represented Pakistan in many countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, USA, Ireland, Singapore and Bangladesh to name just a few. Some of the more notable venues he has performed at include the Royal Festive Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the closing ceremony of the South Asian Games.

Haider performed outstandingly and entranced the audience with his complex melodies and the whole while he performed, his mastery of his craft was undeniable.

After Haider’s outstanding performance, it was Ustaad Rustam’s turn to shine. Ustaad Rustam Fateh Ali Khan is the son and disciple of the late Ustaad ‘Bade’ Fateh Ali Khan who was the greatest artist of the Patiala Gharana style of music. This is one of the most prominent ‘gharanas’ of the classical music of the Sub-continent. It was initially sponsored by the Maharaja of Patiala in the Punjab. This Gharana is distinguished for its renditions in ghazals, thumri and khayal.

Following the tradition Ustaad Rustam has received national acclaim for his renditions of Khayal and Thumri and has represented Pakistan with several cultural delegations to South Asia, the Middle East, the Far East and Europe.

He has received the lifetime achievement award from the All Pakistan Music Conference and an award from the Tehzeeb Foundation both in 2013. Other awards include awards from the Urdu Conference in Qatar 1999, the National Youth Arts and Crafts Festival. Gold Medal from All Pakistan Music Conference 1998 and Best Singer Award at Golden Jubilee of Radio 1997.

He supports young talent and encourages them to develop interest in traditional arts and culture by teaching M.A Musicology in Punjab University and working as a selector and music coach in successful reality shows in India such as ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ and ‘Surkshetra.’

Responding to a question during the break in his performance at Tagh’eer, Ustaad Rustam says that people in Pakistan and the Sub-continent are misinformed regarding their cultural traditions and practices, including music and take no interest in them. He states that people no longer treat classical music with the proper respect that they deserve.

This and the scarcity of institutions and patronage of music in Pakistan, Ustaad Rustam established the ‘Rustam Fateh Ali Khan Foundation’ whose sole aim is to promote music and the artists who haven’t been able to find opportunities elsewhere. Usaad Rustam Fateh Ali Khan Festival was held in subsequent years of 2018 and 2019. Ustaad Rustam also travels frequently to conduct workshops and performances in Dubai, Punjab University Chandigarh as well as Punjab University Patiala and is working tirelessly in interest of the art which he believes in promoting in Pakistan and throughout the world.

Ustaad Rustam’s reputation as both a talented artist and teacher was clearly on display at Tagh’eer on the 20th of November. In the minds of the audience, he seemed to glow in the dimly lit setting as he sang in his incredible voice. He was supported by Haider Rahman on the flute, Sunny Khan on the tabla, Arshad Sahab on the harmonium and Zohaib Hassan on the sarangi and together they gave the audience a performance that was worthy of being discussed and remembered for years.

During the performance, Ustaad Rustam briefly stopped a number of times to explain what he was performing and how he was doing it, really adding to the educational aspect of the event and everything he said resulted in the audience leaving with valuable knowledge at the end of the event.

Artists like Ustaad Rustam and spaces like Tagh’eer are of paramount importance in preserving vital pieces our history and identity but sadly, they are highly underrated and are given very little recognition in the public forum as well as in the Pakistani government’s development programs. All they ask for is the respect not them but their arts deserve.

Zarak Khan is an A level student. He's interested in History, Politics, Law, Economics and competing in professional esports tournaments He can be contacted at