Ehsaan Ghungroowala creates magic with his vocal cords

Kolkata: Having mastered the art of vocal percussion, he takes his listeners to a realm of disbelief. With his unique ability to translate musical compositions into sounds of a ghungroo (musical anklet) using just his vocal cords, Ehsaan Ahmed Bharti has not only given a unique dimension to the qawaali but also taken the fading art to new heights . What started as a novel way to popularise the qawaali, has not only made Ehsaan a renowned name in the field of music, but also earned him a place in Guinness World Records for his extraordinary talent in producing the sound of the ghungroo and the pajeb (payal), in as many as 84 different styles. Born in a family of traditional Sufi qawaals from Meerut, Ehsaan, known across the country as Ghungroowala, took up music at an early age. "It took me seven years of tireless practice to master this art. I would lock myself in a room and practise for hours putting my head inside a ghada (pitcher). People, including my family, thought I had gone crazy but I did not relent," Ehsaan said on the sidelines of a FICCI Ladies Organization event here. Equally adept at Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and Pali, Ehsaan peppers his qawaalis with alliterative compositions and ghungroo sounds taking his listeners to an altogether different musical sojourn. So how did he hit upon the novel idea? "It all started some 30 years back when an ascetic came to me saying I was the chosen one, chosen to spread the message of love. He made me realise my ability and with tireless practice over the years, I can now bring out 84 different sounds of the ghungroo and the pajeb," he said. As a participant in "India's Got Talent", Ehsaan had mesmerised the judges, including Bollywood star Dharmendra. Unwilling to accept that the popularity of the qawaali has declined, Ehsaan expressed his unhappiness over remixes. "The qawaali has been an integral part of Bollywood music which is a testament of its popularity. But nowadays, they are being distorted, people are remixing Sufi compositions and often they are used without any credit," he rued. He was also aghast by the killing of noted Pakistani qawaal Amjad Sabri who was gunned down in Karachi last week. "What can be more unfortunate than musicians getting killed, that too a Sufi singer? Music has no religion and nor do those who practise them. I lost a friend in Amjad. It's saddening and frightening to see the hatred that has gripped the world. Only music can heal," said Ehsaan. Qawaalis run in the Ehsaan family and the next generation is now readying itself to carry forward the unique art. "My son Kamran has been practising hard to emulate me but it will take a little more time for him to be adept," Ehsaan signed off.