Ustad Shaik Dawood was born on 16th of December 1916 in Sholapur. His father Shaik Hashim Saheb was a draughts man in PWD, Bijapur.
Right from the age of 3 years, he showed keen interest towards music and rhythm. The indulgent father purchased for his three years old son a small pair of tabla and a tasha to play with. His father takes him to dramas regularly. The dramas in those days were entirely musical and this had a profound influence on Dawood Saheb. His grasping powers were such that he would be able to render the songs that he had heard the previous night.
At the age of 8 years, Dawood Saheb was initiated into vocal music and rudiments of tabla by Ameer Quawwal, a classical vocalist and traditional Natiya Quawwal of Sholapur. Ustad Khasim saheb who was a Zamindar of Sholapur and SUFI by nature used to organize spiritual is courses every Thursday. Ameer Quawwal used to sing Quawalis and Dawood used to sing and play tabla. It was at these meetings that Dawood Saheb used to come into contact with Ustad Khasim Saheb. Those were the days when the Ustad never took anyone as a disciple readily. Inspite of constant meetings for four years, Khasim Saheb did not accept him as a student but instead suggested that Dawood should learn vocal music and if needed, he would recommend him to Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. Dawood persisted with this request to teach him tabla. Then one day when Dawood was 12 years old, Khasim Saheb said, "OK, I will teach you a Gat and if you play it well, I will take you as my disciple". The Gat was
||GHE GHE NAGA
Dawood Saheb sat the whole night and practiced it hard and rendered the Gat the next day to the fullest satisfaction of Ustad Khasim Saheb. Thus, at the age of 12, Dawood Saheb became his disciple.
Ustad Khasim Saheb always called himself an amateur musician who attained some fame in the region as a tabla accompanist with vocal music and sitar. Many of the artists of ester years like Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Pandit Bhaskar Bua Bakhle, Ustad Shabbu Khan and the tabla Nawaz of Hyderabad Ustad All Dia Khan were his very close friends. Ustad Mohammed Khasim was a great patron and connoisseur of music, besides being very knowledgeable about tabla. His gurus were Ustad Ali Dad Khan of Gaya and Ustad Tajammul Hussain of Benaras.
One of the most important contributions of Mohammed Khasim is the technique of using thumb to produce the soft 'gamak' on the dugga. This technique is better understood and appreciated by the students of tabla. This unique technique was further improved and perfected by Dawood Saheb. The beauty of this technique unfolds while rendering Peshkara, Laggis, Relas (particularly the ultas and sultas ) and the teen taal theka is made to resemble "a well oiled village oil mill". This is how the eminent sitar maestro Ustad Imrat Hussain Khan described the theka played by Ustad Shaik Dawood.
THE ART OF UNOBSTRUSIVE ACCOMPANIMENT WAS INGRAINED INTO DAWOOD SAHEB EARLYON DURING THE TRAINING AND BY THE TIME HE WAS 18 YEARS, HE WAS GIVING ACCOMPANIMENT TO VERY REPUTED MUSICIAN FRIENDS OF KHASIM SAHEB WHO USED TO FREQUENT TO SHOLAPUR. USTAD ABDUL KARIM KHAN TOOK A SPECIAL LIKING TO DAWOOD SAHEB'S ACCOMPANIMENT. IN RETROSPECT, ACCOMPANIMENT TO VOCAL MUSICIANS IN THE EARLY YEARS OF HIS CAREER, PERHAPS GAVE DAWOOD SAHEB IMMENSE CONTROL OVER THE 'VILAMBIT LAYA " HOWEVER SLOW THE THEKA IS.
During this period Dawood Saheb also use to go to Tuljapur where he regularly attends the Saturday music gathering at Tulja Bhavani Mandir which the Pujari of the Mandir organize, here on one Saturday the Sub Registrar of Tuljapur Janab M.A. Raoof gave his light classical vocal concert with Dawood Saheb accompaniment on Tabla. THIS IS THE DAY WHEN SOMETHING HAS BEEN CHANGED IN DAWOOD SAHEB'S LIFE, AS JANAB M.A. RAOOF WAS A GREAT SINGER OF HIS TIME AND A PROMINENT SOCIAL PERSON, HE LIKED DAWOOD SAHEB'S TABLA SO MUCH THAT HE NEVER SING WITH ANY OTHER TABLIYA FOR REST OF HIS LIFE (only if Dawood Saheb is not available he takes someone else).
At the age of 19 years Dawood Saheb was invited to accompany some eminent artistes by Mr. M.A. Raoof, Program Executive of Hyderabad Radio Station. (Private Radio Station at the time) Both Mr. Raoof and Mr. Roshan Ali moljee,Music Director at the Radio Station were impressed by Dawood Saheb's Accompaniment he used to make frequent trips to Hyderabad from Sholapur to provide tabla accompaniment to artistes performing on Hyderabad Radio. Such was the demand that Dawood Saheb was persuaded to shift to Hyderabad in 1937 and was offered a permanent job in Hyderabad Radio.
Within months Hyderabad Radio was taken over by the Nizam from the private hands and it became a state institution under Nawab Ali Yavar Jung who was a great connoisseur of music. Under his patronage and that of Nawab Zaheer Jung Bahadur, Minister in charge of religious and cultural affairs, all great musicians at that time were invited and Dawood Saheb provided tabla accompaniment to all these artistes. Such rich experience for a tabla artiste of accompanying so many reputed musicians from all over the sub-continent perhaps remains UNPARALLELED .In fact Dawood Saheb has given tabla accompaniment to artistes of THREE GENERATIONS.
The musicians whom Dawood Saheb has accompanied during his glorious career spanning over 58 years include Ustad Abdul Karim Khansaheb.
Generally, it happens that once an artist reaches the concert stage, his inclination to pursue further learning diminishes, because playing for concerts every now and then drains considerable amount of energy and results in mental fatigue. But, his thirst for knowledge was such that Dawood Saheb became the disciple of Ustad Alladia Khan, a tabla nawaz of SEVEN GENERATIONS. Alladia Khan was a vast repository of Tabla knowledge. For 12 years Dawood Saheb assimilated a great amount of tabla knowledge from the maestro.
Dawood Saheb also became the disciple of Alladia Khan's gifted sons, Ustad Mohammed Khan and Ustad Chote Khan. Ustad Mohammed Khan was great scholar and taught Dawood Saheb many things particularly Pakhawaj and compositions which originated from Pandit Naik Nana Panse (the Pakhawaj Maestro of ester years) Mohammed Khan also taught him vocal music, Ghazal and Sitar .
Ustad Mehboob Khan Mirajkar of Pune (a disciple of Ustad Jahangir Khan of lndore) and Dawood Saheb were having a mutual understanding of exchanging knowledge of tabla. It is on the wish and will of Jehangir Khan (Dawood Saheb's pursuit of knowledge was such that at the age of 45 years, when the whole world was at his feet, as they say) that Dawood Saheb became the disciple of Mehboob Khan. Mehboob Khan was an erudite scholar and he taught him very rare Gats and other compositions of Punjab and Farukhabad.
Dawood Saheb had an amazing memory and mastery over the innumerable gats, mukhdas, chakkardars. Whether it was a five minute recording or one hour solo, the khayadas, mukhdas, gats, relas, rang, chakkardars were reeled off one after the other without a pause or hesitation, not only teental, but also in other tals like Pancham Savari, Roopak, Jhaptal etc. He had the unique distinction of conducting 13 lecture cum demonstration sessions on the All India Radio, Hyderabad, in 1954-55 to describe the bol, shastriya vistar, khaidas etc. from 7 matras to 21 matras.
ON ACCOUNT OF HIS VERSATILITY AND PLEASING DISPOSITION, HE WAS THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER ABLIYA, BOTH BY THE ARTISTES THEMSELVES AND ALSO BY THE ORGANISERS AND FANS ALIKE IN ALL THE MUSIC CONFERENCES IN INDIA. EVEN THE MUSIC CRITICS LIKE THE PRESENCE OF DAWOOD SAHEB AT MUSIC CONFERENCES. WHETHER THE NEED WAS TO PLAY A SLOW TEMPO JHOOMRA' THEKA OR A FAST TEMPO LAGGI (FOR THE THRUMRI DADRA SINGER) OR A ONE HOUR TABLA SOLO. DAWOOD SAHEB FULFILLED THE NEED COMPLETELY TO THE SATISFACTION AND DELIGHT OF THE MAIN ARTISTES AS WELL AS HIS NUMEROUS FANS.
About his versatility and repertoire, there are any number of examples. One such is the accompaniment to Daggar Brothers. In the 1960's Daggar Brothers had come on a private visit to Hyderabad. An AIR recording was arranged at very short notice. A small invited audience was present in the studio (This system was prevalent in those days. I was one of the invitees). Dawood Saheb sat with the tabla and we wondered whether the Daggar Brothers would sing a Khayal for a change since there was no Pakhawaj player on hand. But no! They rendered Drupad/Dhammar and Dawood Saheb Played like Pakhawaj with open hands. The program was such a thumping success that after the program the senior Daggar Brothers embraced Dawood Saheb and showered his appreciation for his excellent knowledge of Pakhawaj. I wish such recordings were preserved in the archives for the benefit of the future generations.
Despite his extremely hectic schedule, Dawood Saheb found time to teach his students. His classes were always on a one to one basis to give full individual attention to each student and he never believed in teaching a group of students all at the same time. He expected only one time payment of Guru Dakshina during the 'Ganda Bandhan' function which was only a modest Rs. 2511- (a figure which he refused to increase even in the 1980's) and he never demanded monthly fees. His students were not only from the length and breadth of the country but also from abroad. He produced over 150 disciples including Nawab Zaheer Yar lung Bahadur who was his first disciple. About 15 of his students have themselves become teachers of tabla in Music colleges. Four of his students are teaching tabla in USA and one in France.
He was always keen to ensure that his students (who took tabla as a profession) were able to sustain themselves. He was always eager to give references of his contacts whenever his students went to new towns and cities.
Despite his name and fame Dawood Saheb always remembered with gratitude all those who were supportive during his formative years. Whenever such people invited him for providing tabla accompaniment he never demanded any money, even at the pinnacle of his career. In the 1960's he was called to accompany Pandit Gajanan Rao Joshi's Violin at Gulbarga. The resources of this music circle was limited. After the program, Dr.Patki, President of the Music Circle (who was a Senior Medical Practitioner and amateur vocal musician) gave the "packet" to Dawood Saheb, feeling apologetic the fee was miniscule and not befitting Dawood Saheb's caliber, to which Dawood Saheb was quick to respond saying "Dr. Patki Saheb, you have done so much for me, even if you do not give any remuneration, I would still feel obliged to you for ever". I was a witness to this touching scene.
ON TABLA ACCOMPANIMENT, DAWOOD SAHEB WAS HUMBLE SERVANT TO THE MAIN ARTIST WHETHER IT WAS HIGHLY REPUTED MUSICIAN OR A 14 YEAR OLD UP AND COMING SITARIST, HIS APPROACH wAS THE SAME. HE STRONGLY FELT THAT WHATEVER THE TABLA ACCOMPANIST RENDERS SHOULD BE RELEVANT TO THE CONTEXT AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD DISTURB THE MAIN ARTIST. TABLA ACCOMPANIMENT SHOULD BE "SUPPORTIVE" AND CERTAINLY NOT DISTRACT THE MAIN ARTIST.
The vast knowledge of tabla of Ustad Shaik Dawood was acknowledged by no less a person than his Guru USTAD MEHBOOB KHAN MIRAJKAR. He said "ALL THE KNOWLEDGE OF TABLA IN INDIA IS WITH SHAIK DAWOOD".. Apart from the vast 'store house' of tabla knowledge which he got from his Five Ustads, Dawood Saheb himself has composed beautiful 'Gats' 'Relas' 'Chakkardhars' etc. which have their own distinct identity and beauty.
PARTICULARLY HE MADE JODAS FOR MOST OF THE GATS OF PAST USTADS AND GAVE IT TO HIS SON SHABBIR NISAR. (He himself never played these jodas but Shabbir is playing them now a days as a tribute to his Guru and father.)
In recognition of his life long services in the field of music he was awarded Hindu-Muslim Unity Front Award in 1975. Other Awards include Taal Vilas by Sur singar Samsad Bombay (1978) & Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1992).
Dawood Saheb's contribution to Music for well over 50 years was at last noticed and in February 1992, the most coveted Sangeet Natak Academy Award was presented to him by the Government of India. But Alas! Dawood Saheb was not able to attend the function because of failing health. His son Ustad Shabbir Nisar received it on his behalf. It would have been so much better if this realization by the Academy had come earlier when his physical and mental faculties enabled him to receive it personally.
Hardly a month after getting the most coveted award, Ustad Shaik Dawood reached the heavenly abode on 21 st March 1992, leaving behind a vast legacy of compositions in tabla which is inherited by his son Ustad Shabbir Nisar along with his other disciples.
THE PASSING A WAY OF USTAD SHAIK DAWOOD HAS CREATED A VOID WHICH IS VERY DIFFICULT TO FILL.
It is indeed a very gratifying and comforting thought that Ustad Shabbir Nisar has imbibed a great amount of the style and rendition of the Ustad and is surely following his father's footsteps. He has embarked on a Herculean task by establishing an academy in the memory of his father viz. "TABLA NAWAZ USTAD SHAIK DAWOOD ACADEMY OF MUSIC" at Hyderabad. It is indeed an ambitious project devoted for Research, preservation and promotion of the rich tradition that is inherited.
A Tribute to my Gurudev - A B Prabhakar Rao
(Senior Desciple of Ustad Shaik Dawood)