That legendary ghazal singer Akhtaribai Faizabadi, prominently known as Begum Akhtar, had inhaled her rearward in the city of Ahmedabad in 1969 is a well established certainty. In any case, few would realize that her previous relationship with Gujarat where she had benefactors even before she climbed the bewildering statures of melodic heritage.
Bajana, a little august territory of Bajana, scarcely 100 km from Ahmedabad, had first offered its support to the ghazal sovereign in her initial profession, when she was simply Akhtaribai. It was the last leader of Bajana, Kamalkhan Malek, upon whose greeting she used to visit Bajana and set up habitation there.
Time may have made Bajana state overlook the tradition of the vocalist, brought into the world 106 years back on October 7, yet not totally. The rest house where Begum used to remain in Bajana is as yet known as ‘Akhtar no Ordo’ (Akhtar’s room). The rest house was changed over into a veterinary medical clinic during the 1960s. The structure was seriously harmed during the 2001 quake and was reconstructed.
One of Kamalkhan’s descendants, Farhadkhan told TOI, “We do not know how my great grandfather met Begum Akhtar or chose to patronise her. We have got no record about it. What we know is that she used to come to Bajana in the early 1930s, the initial years of her professional career.”
Farhadkhan is now trying to further trace the singer’s ties with Bajana. “Akhtaribai used to visit Bajana state for more than a decade. It was after independence that our family lost connection with her. She did not visit Bajana after 1947. But by then, she was a well-known name and had even acted in Hindi films.”