Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
Background information
Also known asSabrang
Born(1902-04-02)2 April 1902
Kasur, Punjab, British India
(present-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Died23 April 1968(1968-04-23) (aged 66)
Hyderabad, Telangana, India
GenresHindustani classical music
Years active1923–1967
LabelsHMV, Times Music

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (2 April 1902 – 23 April 1968) was an Indian vocalist, from the Kasur Gharana.[1][2][3]

Early life and background

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was born in Kasur, of the erstwhile Punjab Province, British India in 1902. Following partition of India in 1947, Kasur Tehsil was allocated to Pakistan. At the age of five, Bade Ghulam began training in vocal music from his chacha Kale Khan, and later from his father. He had three younger brothers namely Barkat Ali Khan, Mubarak Ali Khan and Amanat Ali Khan.

Ustad Khan Ghulam Ali Khan had two sons from his first marriage to Allah Jawai. Munawar Ali Khan, his younger son, was born in August 1930 and Karamat Ali Khan, his elder son, was born in Lahore on December 28, 1928.Seven sons were born to his elder son Karamat Ali Khan: Baqi Ali Asif Ali Mazhar Ali Khan Jawaad Ali Khan Mehdi Ali, Sajjad Ali, and Naqi Ali Khan.Out of the seven sons, three have carried on the Gharana lineage and are still singing. The singer Son Mazhar Ali Khan passed away in New Delhi, India, in September 2021. Three children were born to Munawar Ali Khan: two sons and a daughter, Raza Ali Khan ShaKir Ali Khan. Raza Ali Khan is carrying on the Gharana customs as well.

Singing career

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on a 2003 stamp of India

Though he started his career by singing a few compositions of his late father Ali Baksh Khan and uncle Kale Khan, Bade Ghulam amalgamated the best of three traditions into his own Patiala-Kasur style:

Many of his raga expositions were brief, contrary to convention, and, while he agreed that the beauty of classical music lay in leisurely improvisation, he believed that the audience would not appreciate long alaps, particularly considering his tendency towards singing for the masses. He, therefore, changed the music to what the audience wanted. He excelled at more light-hearted ragas such as:

Under the pen name of Sabrang, he created many new compositions. Unlike his younger son, Munawar Ali Khan, who had an open-throated voice, Khan Sahib's voice was slurred.

After the Partition of India in 1947, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan went to his hometown Kasur in Pakistan, but moved to India later to live permanently in 1957. With the help of the Bombay Chief Minister, Morarji Desai, he acquired Indian citizenship and moved to a bungalow at Malabar Hill in Mumbai. He lived at various times in Lahore, Bombay, Calcutta, and finally Hyderabad.[3]

For a long time, he stayed away from singing in films, despite requests and persuasion from well-known producers and music directors. Finally, after much coaxing, he was convinced by the film producer, K Asif, to sing two songs based on the ragas Sohni and Rageshri for the 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam, with music directed by Naushad. He demanded and received an extremely high price, reportedly ₹ 25,000 per song, at a time when the rates of popular and star playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi were below ₹ 500 per song.[2][4]

Awards and recognition

Death and legacy

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Tomb at Daira Mir Momin cemetery in Hyderabad

He died in Basheer Bagh Palace in Hyderabad on 23 April 1968 after a prolonged illness that had left him partially paralyzed in the last few years of his life. He continued to sing and perform in public with the support of his son, Munawar Ali Khan, until his death.[7][1] He was buried at Daira Mir Momin cemetery in Hyderabad.[8][9]

Indian film director Harisadhan Dasgupta made a documentary film about Khan in 1968, titled Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib.[10]

In 2017, the Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Yaadgaar Sabha was founded by his disciple Malti Gilani. It helps to keep his music and memory alive even today.[11]

The main street at Basheerbagh is named Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Marg in his honour.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan India Today (newspaper), Retrieved 19 October 2020
  2. ^ a b c (Papri Paul) Bade Ghulam Ali Khan: Remembering the legend The Times of India (newspaper), Published 4 April 2017, Retrieved 19 October 2020
  3. ^ a b Ramachandra Guha (5 June 2020). "Melody within (Bade Ghulam Ali Khan)". The Telegraph Online (newspaper). Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  4. ^ "बड़े गुलाम अली खान: जिन्होंने गाने के लिए रफी और लता से 50 गुना फीस ली". Firstpost Hindi. 2 April 2018.
  5. ^ "List of Sangeet Natak Academic Awards". Sangeet Natak Akademi website. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  6. ^ Padma Bhushan Award (1962) listed for Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Government of India website, Retrieved 19 October 2020
  7. ^ Beat Street (Bade Ghulam Ali Khan) The Hindu (newspaper), 16 November 2005, Retrieved 19 October 2020
  8. ^ "Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's tomb restored". The Times of India. 3 April 2021. ISSN 0971-8257. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  9. ^ Today, Telangana (28 March 2021). "Hyderabad: Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan's tomb being restored". Telangana Today. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb (1964)".
  11. ^ (Anjana Rajan) On ragas and riches The Hindu (newspaper), 22 August 2008, Retrieved 19 October 2020