'Ustad Kale Ram', an unheard of achiever

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Jalandhar (Punjab), Aug 22(ANI): Ustad Kale Ram, a great exponent of tabla from the Punjab Gharana, a style and technique of tabla playing that originated in Punjab, has brought laurels to the country through his performances across the world, though has lived a life without being in the limelight.

Ustad Kale Ram was fascinated with the sound and rhythm of the tabla at a very young age and became passionate about exploring new medium through the musical instrument.

"I was passionate about learning Tabla since my childhood. Because of that I wasn't able to concentrate on my studies. I quit studies and told my parents that I wanted to take up my hobby as my profession. I got a job in Amritsar when I was young and I was very happy that I could play Tabla at my work place as well as at home," Ustad Kale Ram said.

As each gharana is traditionally set apart from the others by distinctive aspects of the compositional and playing styles of its exponents, it provides a unique blend when played in fusion. And Ustad Kale Ram tried to explore these avenues, as he performed with a list of renowned personalities.

"I got a chance to perform with eminent artists like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Sahab, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Nirmala Devi ji, Laxmishanker, Ustad Salamt Ali Khan Sahab, Pt. Jasraj ji, Pt. Krishnarao Shanker, Patvardhan ji in the big cities like Mumbai, Tirupati, Madras, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad. I feel very happy whenever I am reminded of those moments," Ustad Kale Ram said.

In addition to performing in numerous festivals and concerts, Ustad Kale Ram has been teaching tabla to budding artists at Jalandhar, aiming to pass on the art so as to enable the current generation to learn and combine aspects from multiple gharanas to form their own unique styles.

"The reason why I like Tabla is because of the rhythm. I feel rhythm has a great association with life. A rhythm has such a great pull that if somebody is busy doing some work and hears some music then he/she starts moving to the beat of the rhythm," he added.

Some think the era of gharana has effectively come to an end, as the unique aspects of each gharana have been mostly lost through the mixing of styles and the socio-economic difficulties of maintaining lineage purity through rigorous training, however eminent musicians like Ustad Kale Ram ji keep the art alive.

A master boasting amounts of traditional compositional knowledge and expertise, an achiever, who keeps the art alive, an art that is dying a slow death. (ANI)

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