The history of the highly cultured and exotic Lucknow with all the grandeur, pomp and the synonymous romantic Shaam-e-Awadh (evenings of Awadh) actually dates back to 1775 AD when Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, the fourth Nawab, moved the capital of Awadh from Faizabad to Lucknow. Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula changed the architectural outline of Lucknow with the establishment of several imposing monuments, palaces, gardens, and parks. It was during the reign of the Nawabs that Lucknow actually became the most illustrious center of traditional dance, music, language, poetry, and drama.
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah encouraged the traditional forms of dance, singing, music, and poetry. Traditional forms of Thumri, Kathak, Ragas, and Ghazals were promoted during the rule of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Some Nawabs are also believed to have received classical vocal training under legendary Ustads such as Jafar Khan, Pyar Khan and Basit Khan. Kathak dance acquired new glory and reputation under the lavish patronage of the Nawabs of Awadh. The renowned Kalka-Binda brothers and Thakur Prasadji used to perform Kathak dance in the courts of the Nawabs.
With the grand spectacle of the exquisite Kathak performances, Ghazals, Ragas, and Jogiya Jashans, Lucknow actually became the cultural center of the country, where the most distinguished dancers, poets, singers and theater artists flourished during the reign of the Nawabs of Awadh.
The cultural legacy of Lucknow is beautifully carried forward by some of the most eminent institutes of dance, music, singing and dramatics in the city of Nawabs. Promising artists from all over the country and Uttar Pradesh come to explore the wonderful learning opportunities here. Let’s take a close look at some of these centers of learning.
Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts
The Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts is a prominent theatre training institute located in Lucknow. It is an independent institute and was established on 2nd July 1975. Padma Shree Raj Bisaria and Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Academy contributed a lot towards the establishment of Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts. Initially, the institute was named as Bhartendu Natya Kendra and classes were held at the Ravindralay in Charbagh. Initially, the institute did not have its own building but now it operates from Bhartendu Bhawan, which is located in Gomti Nagar.
In 1977, the institute became an autonomous body and it acquired the rank of a deemed university in 2008. In the year 1981, the institute started offering a two year full-time post graduate diploma in theater training. The Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts has criteria of selecting only 20 students per year for its extensive two year diploma course. Students from all over the world come and seek admission in this prestigious institute. Be it in acting, research, composition, direction, production, or teaching, the students of the institute have excelled in their respective areas.
Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts has been selecting the most talented candidates from the thousands of wannabe actors, technicians and designers, who audition every year to seek admission in the institute. The institute trains and equips every student with the best training for their respective careers in film, television, radio or theatre. Moreover, students who have excelled are invited to become members of the Theater Company, which provides further training and performance opportunities in the valuable presence of experienced industry professionals.
Some of the distinguished visiting faculties of the institute are Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, Padma Bhushan recipient and renowned theatre personality Habib Tanvir, Padma Bhushan awardee and director Shyam Benegal and Padma Shri Raj Bisaria. Some of the prominent graduates of the institute are Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rajpal Yadav, Avneesh Mishra, and Mazhar Khan.
Bhatkhande Music Institute
The history of music in India actually dates back to the ancient period, when education in music was imparted in Ashrams and Gurukuls of Munis and Rishis. Traditional music and singing ushered during the reign of the Mughals, Nawabs and even East India Company of Britain. Two legends of the traditional Indian music Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande and Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar led the development of traditional Indian music training.
In the year 1926, Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande opened a music institute in the city of Nawabs with the help of Rai Rajeshwar Bali, Rai Umanath Bali and other distinguished music patrons of Lucknow. Sir William Marris, who was the governor of Province of Awadh inaugurated the institute and it was called Marris College of Music during the tenure of the governor. On 26th March, 1966, the Government of Uttar Pradesh took the control of the institute and rechristened it as Bhatkhande College of Hindustani Music.
Bhatkhande Music Institute is the only deemed Music University in the country. On 24th October, 2000, the Government of India granted the status of a deemed university to Bhatkhande Music Institute.
The institute offers various diploma and degree level courses to aspiring students in the field of music and singing. Wannabe students from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, South East Asia, and Central Asia come and take admission in various courses at Bhatkhande Music Institute every year.
Lalit Kala Akademi
The Lalit Kala Akademi is an autonomous organization established by the Government of India. The headquarters of the institute is in New Delhi and it has regional centers in Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Shimla, Kolkata, Garhi and Lucknow. The Lucknow center is located at Ekta Vihar in Aliganj and is governed by the Ministry of Culture. The regional center at Lucknow was founded in 1983 and was called Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendra.
The objective of Lalit Kala Akademi is to promote fine arts such as photography, painting, drawing, sculpturing, ceramics, media arts, graphics, modern plastic arts and digital photography to name a few all over the state. Every year, the institute organizes various cultural activities and events such as organizing lectures on film shows, television shows, artists-in-residency programs, craft workshops, seminars, exhibitions, etc. for the promotion of fine arts. The institute also organizes these cultural events in other states of the country so as to provide appropriate exposure to the candidates. Many of these cultural events are organized in alliance with various domestic and international art institutions.
Since its commencement, the institute has organized several notable art related events that have actually resulted in a lively program of art and cultural promotion throughout the country. Lalit Kala Akademi has also organized numerous Interactive Artists Workshops that focus on tribal arts and folk traditions through multimedia workshops to refurbish and invigorate dying tribal arts and folk customs of the country.
State Lalit Kala Akademi
State Lalit Kala Akademi was established in Lucknow on 8th February 1962. It is a completely funded independent organization governed by the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, Department of Culture. The institute is located at Lal Baradari in Kaiserbagh. The historical Lal Baradari was built during the reign of the Nawabs (1778-1814) for crowning of the Nawabs. Nawab Saadat Ali Khan and Nawab Wajid Ali Shah were crowned as the first and last rulers of Awadh respectively at the Lal Baradari.
The institute encourages and promotes learning and research in the area of painting, architecture, drawing, sculpture and applied arts. The Akademi also promotes cooperation and liaison among art associations and artists to encourage applied arts throughout the state and country. Artists at the Akademi actually publish and promote fine literatures on art such as art albums, monographs, journals, etc. to establish an extensive gallery of applied arts.
International exhibitions and workshops are organized at the institute for the benefit of art lovers and artists of the city. Some of the global exhibitions organized at the institute are Contemporary American Painting Exhibition, Graphic Art and Poster Exhibition organized by the Poland Embassy, Exhibition of Works of Russian Artists, Exhibition of Reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci, and Exhibition of Reproductions of Duerer organized by Indo-German Society to name a few.
The Akademi also organizes prominent domestic workshops and exhibitions for the benefit of budding artists of the state and country such as Chikitushi, Gulmohar Kala Samarpan, Kala Vithika and Varnika to name a few.
Naushad Sangeet Kendra
The Naushad Sangeet Kendra, which is located at Khurram Nagar is a premier Sangeet Kendra providing in-depth classical vocal training to budding singers and musicians of the state. The institute was established after Naushad Ali, the renowned musician of the yesteryear, who was born in Lucknow and made a remarkable career in Hindi film industry.
Every year, Naushad Sangeet Kendra awards talented singers and musicians with the coveted “Naushad Samman”. The institute lays special emphasis on the basics of Shastriya Sangeet (classical music), thus strengthening the core singing of the promising singers. The institute also trains candidates the finer nuances of playback singing and voice recording techniques for the Hindi film industry.
Experienced Shastriya Sangeet singers and musicians teach students with great devotion and passion and hence the institute has been able to produce some of the most talented musicians and singers of the country.
The Future of Dance, Music, Singing and Dramatics in Lucknow
Nafasat and Tehzeeb being deeply rooted in the hearts of Lucknowites, the city has produced some legendary artists such as Muzaffar Ali, Naushad Ali, Josh Malihabadi, and Jan Nisar Akhtar to name a few. The renowned ancient cities around Lucknow and the Lakhnawi Gharana of dance, music, and singing have given birth to world renowned artists such as Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Ustad Bismillah Khan to name a few. With the presence of these renowned centers of learning in Lucknow, the future of such arts looks promising for the city youth.