Begum Akhtar and her Teachers
Begum Akhtar, born Akhtari, was mischievous as a child and was never interested in formal schooling. One anecdote about her adventures says that she had cut off the plait of her teacher at school and refused to go back to school after the incidence. Akhtari was, however, fascinated with music from quite an early age and her mother fortunately decided to hone her talent.
At the age of about seven or eight years, Akhtari started receiving her initial training by the Sarangi maestro Ustad Imdad Khan, who happened to be the Sarangi accompanist of singers like Mallika Janof Agra and Gauhar Jan of Calcutta. She remained her pupil for six months.
After this, Akhtari began her training under Ustad Ata Mohammed Khan of the Patiala gharana. As was the practise in those days, the Ustad and shagird would live under the same roof and train for hours on end. Khan Sahib was so impressed with Akhtari's singing that he willingly agreed to teach her and even took the decision to move to Mushtari and Akhtari's home.
It was Ustad Ata Mohammed Khan who discovered Akhtari's affinity for deeply emotional styles of thumri, dadra and ghazal gayaki and proceeded to train her in those.
Begum Akhtar as a Teacher
Begun Akhtar in turn imparted her knowledge to numerous talented singers. She started accepting disciples after she settled in her home in Lucknow. Vidushi Shanti Hiranand was one of the first disciples and spent most amount of time with Begum Akhtar. Anjali Banerjee became her student in 1954, few years after Shanti Hiranand. Her later students include Rita Ganguly and Rekha Surya.
She never charged fee for teaching and followed the guru-shishya parampara in which she herself was trained. She never held back from teaching and taught everything she knew and learnt from her teachers to her students. She also held a position at Bhatkhande College of Music in Lucknow.
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