Farhan Iqbal

Farhan Iqbal (b. 1987) is a tabla and harmonium player who was born in Lahore. His paternal grandfather, Ustad Inayat Ali Khan, who hailed from Amritsar, was the son-in-law of the legendary Ustad Mian Qadir Bakhsh, the Khalifa, or head, of the Punjab gharana. Interestingly, he is the brother of Waqar Hussain, another of our interviewees.

Even though he belongs to the Punjab tabla gharana, his father, Muhammad Iqbal Paaley Khan Sahib, formally taught him how to play the harmonium in his childhood. Nevertheless, Farhan Iqbal enthusiastically learnt the tabla by watching his elders play it as a child. His great-uncle, Khalifa Akhtar Hussain, also took an interest in his musical education, and used to teach him the tabla by making him watch himself play. Once he completed high school, his father wanted him to go to college, but he opted to pursue his passion for music instead. A compromise was reached when he began to learn the harmonium from the son of Ustad Ghaamay Khan from Kasur, Ustad Naeem Khan Sahib, as per his father’s wishes, instead of further pursuing the tabla.

He currently is a music teacher at a school, and also provides home tuition to students. He sometimes collaborates with singers and other musicians, and once went to Dubai to play with the great Ustad Hussain Bakhsh Gullu, and has often been invited by Yousaf Salahuddin to his haveli to play with other musicians, including famed musicians such as Ali Zafar and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

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