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A flagbearer of Begum Akhtar's legacy, Lucknow's Shanti Hiranand won all hearts with her Ghazals!

Shanti was renowned for keeping Begum Akhtar's style alive in her performances.

Lucknow's Shanti Hiranand carried on the legacy of 'Begum Akhtar- the inimitable queen of ghazals', in her performances of gayaki, thumris, bhajans and dadras all across the world. The first disciple of Akhtar, who participated in the ceremony of ganda-bandh (a sacred ritual for induction of pupils), Hiranand was later known as the torch-bearer of her idol. Begum was so fond of Shanti that she added her own surname to her most devoted disciple's name when the latter got a passport made in the 50s.

A legend was born in 1950s!

Born in Lucknow in 1933, Shanti Hiranand had an inclination towards music from a very early age, which became an obsession in her growing years. She began her musical journey at the Morris Music College, Lucknow. Later, she came under the radar of Ustad Aijaz Hussain Khan of Rampur Sahaswan Gharana in Lahore, where her father had been transferred for work.

With a voice that resonated through halls, Shanti started reciting vocals for Radio Station, Lahore. After her family relocated to the city post-partition in the 1950s, she began singing for the Lucknow Station. It was at this point of time when she was discovered by Begum Akhtar who remained her guru for over two decades and the rest is history!

The true inheritor of Begum Akhtar's gayaki

Though Hiranand was more renowned as a teacher of Triveni Kala Sangam in Delhi rather than a ghazal or thumri singer, her tender yet powerful voice could be spotted at the concerts. Begum Akhtar had once quoted that she would live on after her death through Hiranand's voice and if anyone wants to hear the pure form of ghazal, they should join the audience at Shanti's concerts.

Akhtar and her protege sang and recorded ghazals together. After Begum's death, fans and connoisseurs were eager to hear Hiranand sing to find a glimpse of the charming voice they had once grown to love. While it is a tough task for any artist to match a maestro's expertise, Padma Shri winner Shanti's tender voice, eccentric music and poetry were so embedded in Akhtar's style that she flowed along without any difficulty.

Despite being an introvert at heart, Hiranand was always surrounded by a mixed crowd of poets, singers and the charatrams who would often come to her house for baithaks. Amongst the multiple facets of her personality, she shone brigtest as the last link to Begum Akhtar's legacy.

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Surprisingly, her daily appetite consisted of a pack of Capstan cigarettes and ice cold water, which did not affect her voice at all. She believed that her voice is trained in a way that would not defer with her lifestyle or habits and this was her life's motto till she left for her heavenly abode in 2020.

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