Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar
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Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar


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"Singing between Two Worlds: Learning Traditional Music in the Heart of Modern India"

Singing between Two Worlds: Learning Traditional Music in the Heart of Modern India

Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 202-808-4980
Produced by Ian Hardy
Directed by Ian Hardy
VHS, color, 26 min.
Music, Multicultural Studies

Reviewed by Bonnie Jo Dopp, Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland

Highly Recommended

How can musical tradition live in a world where commerce rewards only the new? By Devotion, which, as far as music is concerned, seems to be the flip side of Market. The two adult brothers depicted in this film are devotees of “dhrupad,” an ancient Indian vocal music (with accompaniment by strings and percussion) they learn orally from their guru, who is also their father, Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar. Given the microphones present in the public performance to an appreciative audience shown in this film, they may be the very people who will manage the transition of this tradition through the plug-into-the-wall technology of the 20th century and into the wireless world of the future. And their own children? The question of Dagar progeny is addressed obliquely: dhrupad is a family tradition, and the brothers ritually renew their vows to remain faithful to their father’s teaching every few years. They will not speak of “dates” and “girlfriends” on the record. One says he relies on his mother eventually to choose his wife. Daughters have not traditionally been taught this music, but the film shows a young girl at a lesson, and also the acceptance of an American as a student. Perhaps in transmitting this tradition, the more things stay the same, the more they will change. A slice of life in the vastly diverse world of Indian music.
The subtitles make sense (even some heavily accented English is subtitled); sound is fine; editing is poetic in places, resulting in truly moving scenes.

Highly recommended for academic libraries supporting ethnomusicology programs. - Educational media reviews online

"Dagars & Dhrupad, A Notable Bonding"

Mention the word Dhrupad and the one name that comes to mind is the Dagar family, that has been singularly responsible for popularising this classical form.

Carrying forward the legacy is the 20th generation of Dagars – Ustad F. Wasifuddin, S. Nafeesuddin and S. Aneesuddin, of which the latter two will be performing for the first time in the Capital at the 19th Dhrupad Samaroh, starting today at the India Habitat Centre.

“Even as early as 1960, people would ask my grandfather Naseeruddin Dagar if Dhrupad was a dying art,” says Wasifuddin, “Despite the onslaught of westernisation, it has survived, and our family is a testimony to that.”

None of the children were, however, forced into the family tradition, the brothers are quick to point out.

“Though we started our training at the age of 7-8,” says Nafeesuddin, “in the beginning we were just made to sit in classes to test our patience. A Dhrupad concert can go on for five hours and patience is what is needed the most.”

It is only when the elders are convinced that the children are genuinely interested, are they initiated into the training, under the guru-shishya parampara.
“To give our audience a wider choice, since 1978 we have been organising the Dhrupad Samaroh, where we invite musicians from other gharanas,” says Wasifuddin, “it is a majestic style, and we will try to help popularise it.” So long as there are Dagars, there will be Dhrupad. - Hindustan Times (january 2001)

"Events organize by High Commission of India , Dhaka , Bangladesh"

High Commission of India, Dhaka & Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) are organizing a Dhrupad Recital by noted Hindustani Vocal Classical group led by Dagar Brothers (Aneesudin Dagar and Nafeesudin Dagar) at National Theatre Hall, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka on February 10,2009 at 07:00 pm.

Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar, are noted Dhrupad singers who represent the 20th generation of the unbroken tradition of the Dagar lineage.

Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar are worthy heirs to Dhrupad, the oldest form of Hindustani Classical vocal music. Born in Delhi, in the young Dagar Brothers began their initial training under the guidance of their father Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar and their illustrious uncles Ustad N. Zariruddin Dagar and Ustad N. Faiyazuddin Dagar, known all over the world as Dagar Brothers. Amongst the numerous performances given by the young Dagar brothers in India, the highlight of their career was the concert in Pune which was presided over by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. In March 2004, the brothers were honored by Anilkumar Mishra ‘Zunna’ Gold Medal at Varanasi. They have given performances in major cities in Europe including Cologne, Paris, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bonn, etc.

The Dagar family has kept the Dagarvani tradition of Dhrupad vibrantly alive. The song form of such antiquity can be traced back to the times of Prabandh and Sam Veda. It is essentially a form of meditation through vocal music.

The Dhrupad opens with alap, generally in three tiers, followed by the composition, which could either be Dhrupad or Dhamar. In ‘Dagarvani’, the alap is refined application of ten types of vocal kriyas called Akar, Gamak, Lehak, Dagar, Dhuran, Muran, Kampit, Andol, Sphurt and Hudak. It is actually a judicious blend of continuity, sparkle, sweep, leisureness, depth, dignity and sublimity.

Complimentary passes for the performance can be collected from High Commission of India, Culture Centre, Road No 24, House No 35, Gulshan-1, and High Commission of India Road No 142, House No 2, Gulshan -1, Dhaka. - High Commission of India

"A classic example"

[...] The journey in the ocean of music is never ending [...] - Daily News and Analysis

"Dhrupad in safe hands"

The recent Dhrupad Samaroh proves that this stream of Indian music has a bright future.
The three-day Dhrupad Samaroh, organised recently by Dhrupad Society in collaboration with the India International Centre at its auditorium, opened with the screening of a film by Arvind Sinha titled ‘Dhrupad in the time of liberalisation’. This was followed by a panel discussion on “Past, Present and Future of Dhrupad” provoking a lively interaction of experts with the audience. The panel comprised journalist-author Mrinal Pande, German scholar Dagmar Bernstoff, Faiyaz Wasifuddin Dagar and the documentary filmmaker Arvind Sinha who spoke on topics like ‘Mainstreaming Dhrupad’, ‘Role of the West in Perpetuating Dhrupad’, Guru-Shishya parampara, etc.
Mrinal Pande said, “Nowhere in the world the classical is as popular as Popular Music. Why should we insist on mainstreaming Dhrupad? People should come to Dhrupad instead of Dhrupad descending to the lowest common denominator.” Bernstroff dealt in detail the role of West in perpetuating Indian classical music in general and Dhrupad in particular citing the contribution of William Johns and Hazrat Inayat Khan to Yehudi Menuin and Allen Danielo. She also stated that she doesn’t see the future of Dhrupad bleak. Sinha felt that Dhrupad was being marginalised while Wasifuddin Dagar, President, Dhrupad Society, stated, “We need support”. He, in fact, proved much more than what he had to say about guru-shishya parampara by presenting his disciple Harinath Jha the very next day.
Jha impresses
Born in Darbhanga, Harinath Jha came under the tutelage Wasifuddin Dagar since 1991 in the typical guru-shishya tradition of the Dagar gharana. It was heartening to listen to his detailed alapchaari in raga Kambhoji and watch the way he has imbibed the authentic gayaki of this illustrious gharana. Harinath went on to sing a pada of the medieval poet Raskhan, “Manus haun to....” as a Dhrupad composition set to Chautala and treated it with the technical flourishes like the bol-baant with equal command over melody and rhythm.
There were vocal duets by S. Nafeesuddin and S. Aneesuddin Dagar and by Prashant and Nishant Kumar Mallick who represented the Darbhanga gharana. The young Dagar brothers presented raga Adbhut Kalyan, an uncommon variety of Kalyan which is ‘Adbhut’ or unusual because it omits the two most important notes of a raga, namely Madhyam and Pancham. Nafees and Anees did full justice to the challenging raga presenting a detailed alap followed by a Dhrupad composition in Chautala. The instrumental aspect of Dhrupad was represented by a violin recital by R.S. Tiwari and the rudra veena recital by Suvir Mishra.
One of the few left-hand practitioners of veena, Suvir is a gifted disciple of Zia Fariduddin Dagar. He chose raga Jaijaivanti for his performance and played alap-jod-jhaala followed by a composition in Chautala. His delectable treatment of the raga during the alap was specially striking in the lower register.
The Dhrupad Samaroh had its grand finale with the impressive recital by the veteran Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar. The festival proved that if disciples like Harinath Jha are dedicated enough, there is no danger to the future of this austere form of Indian classical music. - The Hindu (24 sept. 2009)

"Suramani to traditionalists"

The hallmark of any culture is its music. and right here in pune, we have a family that has strongly defended erosion of a musical tradition whose roots are said to be in the vedas. nafeesuddin dagar (28) and aneesuddin dagar (27) represent the 20th generation of the dagars, a family that has successfully protected the dagarbani of drupad music for centuries from the onslaught within and outside the country. the duo have recently been awarded the 'suramani' title by the sur singar
samsad, mumbai. elder brother nafees says they cannot go wrong because what their father ustad sayyeeduddin dagar taught them has been handed down from generations of musicians dedicated to drupad, its development and dissemination. sayeeduddin dagar happens to be the youngest of the seven great dagar brothers. but have 20 generations interpreted ancient compositions of drupad differently and haven't the compositions undergone alteration? "drupad is the shortened form of sanskrit 'dhruva pada', which means a composition that is fixed in form, content and structure. one may say, feeling of form may have been different in different musicians. as a consequence the presentational aspects may have undergone change. also, it is natural that the approach to improvisation has changed owing to changes in lifestyles," he says. the boys' morning starts very early with a cold water bath and riyaz. this is the time to develop the vocal faculties. the evening ragas and compositions are practised with a pakhwaj player playing in such a way that the boys are forced to err. however, the father's warm presence and the training regimen have made them strong and as unchangeable as the drupad itself. the question foremost in the mind is whether the present generation has the guts to be equal to the task of maintaining tradition? will they be able to withstand the strains of rigorous regimens of old classical forms like the drupad? "what makes you think that drupad is a dying form of music?" is sayeeduddin dagar's spontaneous but strong response to such queries. anees elaborated thus: "we have put at least 20 years of training and are out to perform all over the world. the long years behind us have given that extra strength to resist populist approach to classical music. we follow the tradition without any questions asked as ours is a time tested one 19 generations old, perhaps even more!" as is customary within the dagar clan, the boys first performed publicly at the behram khan dagar drupad sangeet samaroha at the 'ustad behram khan house' in jaipur in 1999. the house, incidentally is their ancestral home, which too has withstood the test of time and tide and stands casting its old-world charm like frozen music. the home is named after the earliest ascendants of the dagar clan -ustad behram khan. for the dagar boys, there has been no looking back as they have enthralled audiences in the country and abroad ever since that performance in 1999. for their dedication and singing skills, anees and nafees received the suramani award from mumbai's sur singar samsad. the award was scheduled to be given to them on august 31 at the karnataka sangh hall (matunga). this is something punekars should feel proud of. the accumulated knowledge of drupad music came to the state through the family of dagars. sayeeduddin's elder cousin, mohiuddin dagar was a great beenkar (veena exponent) and lived in chembur mumbai. today, his son m bahauddin dagar is also a noted beenkar and represents the 20th generation of dagars alongwith anees and nafees. the eldest among the present generation dagars is based in delhi -. uday bhavalkar. uday who is like a son to mohiuddin khan dagar, does not need any introduction today, thanks to his dedicated pursuit, dissemination and delectable presentations of drupad in india and abroad. it is a matter of great pride then that this old indian tradition of music is being guarded by young blood. drupad then will not only live through the young 'dagar brothers' but will also reach newer heights. we as listeners must also play our role by demanding their very best. - The Times of India (21 aug. 2001)

"Dhrupad recital by Dagar Brothers"

Noted Indian classical vocalists of the "Dagarvani Dhrupad Gharana," the Dagar Brothers -- Aneesuddin Dagar and Nafeesuddin Dagar -- performed at a Dhrupad recital at the National Theatre Stage, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on February 10. Jointly organised by the High Commission of India and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the evening was crowned with a turnout of several eminent personalities including diplomats, intellectuals and artistes.
Information Minister Azad Abul Kalam was present as the chief guest while Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni was present as special guest. Dipak Mittal, first secretary, Indian High Commission, welcomed the audience. Indian High Commissioner, Pinak Ranjan Chakrabarty, also spoke at the event.
Most members of the celebrated Dagar family have performed in Dhaka. Aneesuddin and Nafeesuddin Dagar represent the twentieth generation of the family, which has kept the Dagarvani tradition of Dhrupad alive. The brothers are worthy heirs of the tradition -- the oldest form of Hindustani classical music. Dhrupad reached its zenith in the 16th century, during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, considered one of the most generous patrons of art. At that time there were four schools of Dhrupad, representing this art in all its diversity. Brij Chand Rajput was of Dagar lineage, so the school of Dhrupad that he headed was called Dagarvani. The Dagar family's contribution to the perpetuation and enrichment of this art, while preserving its original purity, has been precious, and the history of this family can be traced back for 20 generations without a break. Traditionally this family has always performed Dhrupad as 'jugalbandi' (duet). Born in Delhi, the Dagar brothers began their initial training under the guidance of their father Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar and their illustrious uncles Ustad N Zahiruddin Dagar and Ustad N Faiyzuddin Dagar. The brothers have performed throughout India and several major cities of Europe. The performance opened with an 'alaap,' an extended melodic improvisation without lyrics or rhythmic accompaniment, setting the mood and personality of a 'raaga.' The 'alaap' was divided into three tiers and was followed by a composition. In Dagarvani, the 'alaap' is a refined application of ten types of vocal executions -- 'Akar,' 'Gamak,' 'Lehak,' 'Dagar,' 'Dhuran,' 'Muran,' 'Kampit,' 'Andol,' 'Sphurt' and 'Hudak.' Dhrupad compositions feature poetic lyrics and are accompaniment with 'pakhawaj.' Prabir Kumar Arya provided 'sangat' (accompaniment) with the performance. Pratima Kulkarni and Purnima Kulkarni were on 'tanpura.' Essentially a form of meditation through vocal execution, the performance is a blend of continuity, sparkle, sweep and depth. - The Daily Star (12 feb. 2009)

"Traditionally Bound"

For Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar, music is the connection to eternity
Preserving one of the most ancient rivulet of music, they are the 20th generation heirs to one of the richest legacies in Indian classical music, the Dagarwani Drupad. Ardently following their illustrious ancestry Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar say that music is their way of life.
"Any kind of art can be mastered only if one is passionate and is willing to give his fullest. And for something like music, you have to dedicate your whole life to it," said Nafeesuddin Dagar while addressing a seminar for the students of liberal studies at FLAMES college in Lavale.
After initial training under their father, Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar and uncles Ustad N Zariruddin Dagar and Ustad N Faiyazuddin Dagar, the duo is currently seeking guidance from their uncle, the renowned Ustad R Fahimuddin Dagar and cousin Faiyaz Dagar. "Music is a never-ending subject and we believe that the learning process must go on," say the two, adding, "Like our ancestors, we too want to devote our life to music and would also propose the same to our coming generations," says Aneesuddin.
With changing tastes, as the influx of western music has hit the current generation, Aneesuddin feels that whatever music one may hear for the moment, the charm of classical music will remain forever. "Fads may come and go but our cultural heritage is very strong and will never die," he says. While Nafeesuddin who feels that the glitz of reality shows on TV is a wrong way to groom young talent, says, "It is very difficult for the children to handle the limelight at such a young age... one failure can break their heart forever. Besides, their actual potential gets lost in the race of commercialisation."
Safeguarding the original form of Dagarwani tradition of Drupad, the contribution of the Dagar family to the perpetuation and enrichment of music has been precious and unique while representing a microcosm of the history of Indian classical music. "We are shouldering a family tradition and it's a big responsibility to maintain the family name. But it's the connection with eternity that gives us strength," says the duo. - The Indian Express (13 nov. 2008)

"Dhrupad recital by Dagar Brothers"

[...]the performance is a blend of continuity, sparkle, sweep and depth. - The Daily Star (02/12/2009)


Although they already have toured extensively in India, S. Nafeesuddin and S. Aneesuddin Dagar have only two releases as sidemen to their father H. Sayeeduddin Dagar in their official discography up to now:

Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar - India: the art of Dagarbani dhrupad, 2002, Buda records 1984912, 74 min.

Lineage of Dhrupad, 2004, Sense world music SWM CD-057, 60 min.

Recording as leaders not released:

Jugalbandi in Paris - Raga Malkauns, 2005, Buddha Channel (, 66 min.

Live in Vézelay - Raga Kamboji, recorded by Christian Michel, 81 min.



Short bio:
Nafeesuddin & Aneesuddin Dagar represents the 20th generation in the unbroken chain of the Dagarvani dhrupad vocal tradition, the oldest form of Indian classical music. They are the sons of renowned Dhrupad master Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar. Born in Delhi, in 1973 and 1974 respectively, the young Dagar Brothers began their initial training under the guidance of their father and their illustrious uncles Ustads Zariruddin & Faiyazuddin Dagar, known all over the world as "Dagar Brothers". Since their first concert in 1999, they have been actively promoting Dhrupad in India and abroad, giving many concert and workshops in India, Bangladesh, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.

Complete bio:
Dhrupad was the dominant form of classical vocal music in North India until the eighteen century when Khayal, a lighter, faster and more florid form gained wider acceptance. The Dagar family's contribution to the perpetuation and enrichment of the Dhrupad art form, while preserving its original purity, has been so precious, that the family can be said to represent a microcosm of the history of Indian classical music.
Nafeesuddin & Aneesuddin Dagar represents the 20th generation in the unbroken chain of the haloed dhrupad vocal tradition. They are the sons of renowned Dhrupad master Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar, the youngest of the seven Dagar Brothers, who has been based in Pune for the last 20 years. Born in Delhi, in 1973 and 1974 respectively, the young Dagar Brothers began their initial training under the guidance of their father, Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar and their illustrious uncles Ustad N. Zariruddin Dagar & Ustad N. Faiyazuddin Dagar, known all over the world as "Dagar Brothers". At present they continue to polish their art under the guidance of their illustrious maternal uncle Ustad R. Fahimuddin Dagar as well as with their famous cousin Faiyaz Wasifuddin Dagar. They are today’s Dagar Brothers, as so rightly proclaimed by an ardent follower of Dagarvani Dhrupad, after their first concert at their ancestors’ place in Jaipur, Rajasthan, in 1999. Since then they have been actively promoting Dhrupad in India and abroad, giving many concert and workshops in India, Bangladesh, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. Among the highlights of their numerous performances in India was the ceremony led by the great Pandit Bhimsen Joshi presenting the brothers a pair of tanpura as a blessing for their career. For their dedication and singing skills, the brothers received the Suramani Award from Mumbai's Sur Singar Samsad in 2001. And in 2004, they were honoured by Anikumar Mishra "Zunna" gold medal in Varanasi.

Mohan Shyam Sharma is one of the leading pakhavaj master of his generation. He has has held the distinguished classification of an A-grade Artist of All India Radio since 1987, and participated in a variety of prestigious local and national radio and television programs since that time.
His accomplishments include a wide range of accompanying performances with the leading practitioners of vocal and instrumental music in the ancient Dhrupad style. He has appeared widely in performances in Europe, Great Britain, USA, the former Soviet Union, Japan and throughout South Asia. His performances included three appearances with the legendary Pandit Ravi Shankar, including a major concert in New York City at Carnegie Hall.
He regularly accompanies Nafeesuddin & Aneesuddin Dagar since 1999.

to know more about Dhrupad.