raeesi's Proud of Balochistan

Mumtaz Ali Baluch


Sindh Express Monday ,August 27,1990

Ayoung Banjoist in old Tradition
By: Muhammad Baig Baluch
Before 1930, Banjo was not more than a toy, At last in presence of traditional indigenous instruments like Sitaar , Beena , Sarangee, Tanpuraa, Sur-Mandal and the alien ones Like Violin, Guitar etc. (All stringed)no musician or singer even noticed the existence of banjo, like so many beautiful crafted toys from Japan, every body thought it to be an other Japan made playing thing .
Stringed with guitar neck and tambourine body, Banjo was not regarded to be tune with Indian Classical Ragas or any other regional mode of music, So, it was considered totally unsuitable for use in any of the main or regional music modes of Indian Sub -Continent, Banjo had thus remained neglected rather rejected as a standard musical instrument in colonial days, until about 1930 AD When Ustaad Gul Muhammad brought about certain changes in it and developed and transformed this hitherto toy into a full flung musical instrument, although these changes were not structural but minor ones, here & there, in shape, length, breadth and depth.

When I saw young Mumtaz Ali playing a classical Raags in a net work of PTV he reminded Bilawal Beljam and me of two great Banjoists of the recent past-Ustad Khaliq Dad. Surely, Mumtaz Ali was not even a remote match to these giants in Banjo playing, yet the mere fact that at such a young age he was playing his Banjo on PTV's network was enough to surprise me. This is because not very long ago Banjo was a taboo on Radio and Television. Reason, when played on a micro phone, its every striking key unmistakably produces a pronounced distorting tick in Mumtaz Ali's performance, but couldn't find any, because his melody was free from such "Bad effects". I even felt slight resemblance of style of the old Ustaad Khaliq Dad in him and this is why I was tempted to find out who Mumtaz Ali was.
Later when I learnt that Mumtaz Ali was the material grandson of the great Banjoist Khaliq Dad , it was not difficult for me to reach him,like his grandfather Mumtaz Ali also lives in a small fishermen's hamlet,off atmaram pritam das Road, Lyari Karachi .
In reply to my first query,Mumtaz ali said that he was the third generation artiste in his family-tree because, like his grand father Sabzal Baloch was also a sort of Master in Banjo playing. He further added that the inventor of the modern Banjo was none other that Ustad Gul Muhammad, the elder brother of his grand father. After his death, Ustad Khaliuq Dad further innovated and developed the instrument and gave it a specific BAAJ on tune,which to date it bears.
In reply to another question, Mumtaz Ali said that his grandfather Ustaad Khaliq Dad and his elder brother Ustaad Gul Muhammad had acquired their education of classical music from Khan Sahib Qudratullah Khan (the elder son of Khan Sahib Mubarak ali Khan)until his death. Khaliq Dad had also the distinction of playing solo record on Radio.
Mumtaz Ali said that after having acquired his basic instructions in Banjo playing and learning Ragas from his grandfather, Khaliq Dad, he was also put under the apprenticeship of Khan Sahib Quratullah Khan;and after who's demise he is still learning from Ustaad Zafar Ali Khan, the able son of Khan Sahib Qudratullah Khan.
When asked about his future plans, Mumtaz Ali said that he inted to visit Japan and arrange stage shows in its cities and town to demonstrate how his elder had transformed their Toy into a real Musical Instrument. He however said that since he had no resources to take his band to Japan, he would prefer a planned trip arranged by the Japan consulate.
During his era of loud Pop Music when the tradional and Classical schools of Music are under going a degenerating process, it is high time that all out steps were taken on state level to preserve and petronise this rich heritage of our common culture. It would there fore not be impertinent, if I insist like Mumtaz Ali deserve every encouragement from all quarters.

Bilawal Beljam (Beluk)


M. Usman Baloch

Maula Baksh & Nek Muhammad (Nekoo)


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