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Wajid Ali Shah

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Lucknow, was not only a great patron of music, dance, drama, and poetry but was himself a gifted composer, and a proficient Kathak dancer. He had received vocal training under great Ustads like Basit Khan, Pyar Khan and Jaffar Khan and Kathak training under Thakur Prasadji and Bindadin Maharaj. Although his pen name was Qaisar, he used the pseudonym "Akhtarpiya" for his numerous compositions. Under this pen name, he wrote over 40 works, poems, prose and Thumris. Diwan-i-Akhtar and Husn-i-Akhtar contain his Ghazals. He is said to have composed many new ragas and named them Jogi, Juhiand Shah-Pasand. In his book entitled Bani, Wajid Ali Shah mentions 36 types of Rahas all set in Kathak style and gives exhaustive notes about the costumes, jewellery and stagecraft. Many have regarded Wajid Ali Shah as "the first playwright of the Hindustani theatre", because his "Radha Kanhaiya Ka Kissa" staged in the Rahas Manzil was the first play of its kind. He dramatised many other poems such as Darya-i-Tashsq, Afsane-i-Ishaq, and Bhahar-i-Ulfat. On March 13, 1854, as he was leaving for Calcutta, on being exiled by the British, Wajid Ali Shah composed the famous thumri, "Babul mora naihar chooto jaay", which has been rendered so poignantly in Raga Bharavi by late K.L.Saigal in the song from the New Theatres Film Street Singer that made it an all India favourite.


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