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Wajid Ali Shah 'Akhtar Piya'
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Wajid Ali Shah
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Wajid Ali Shah was tenth and last Nawab (King) of Awadh (Ayodhya) and he reigned 9 years (February 13, 1847 to February 7, 1856). His full name was Abul Mansoor Meerza Muhammed. His father was Amjad Ali Shah. He was born on July 30, 1822 at Lucknow, India. His kingdom, long protected by the British under treaty, was eventually annexed peacefully in 1856. He was exiled to Garden Reach in Matiyaburj, then a suburb of Kolkata, where he lived out the rest of his life off a generous pension. He died at Matuyaburj at the age of 65.
He was a poet, playwright, dancer and great patron of the arts. He is widely credited with the revival of Kathak as a major form of classical Indian dance. He received vocal training under Basit Khan, Pyar Khan and Jaffar Khan. Although his pen-name was Qaisar, he used the pseudonym "Akhtarpiya" for his numerous compositions. His compositions were published by him in books ‘BANI’, ‘NAJON’and about 105 others. Under this pen name, he wrote over forty works - poems, prose and Thumris. "Diwan-i-Akhtar", "Husn-i-Akhtar" contain his Ghazals. He is said to have composed many new Ragas and named them Jogi, Juhi, Shah-Pasand, etc. His wife was also a composer and her pen name was 'Aalam'.
Kathak dance attained new heights of popularity and glory under his patronage. Thakur Prasadji was his Kathak guru and Kalka-Binda brothers performed in his court. With these musicians, Kathaks, performances of Jogia Jashan & Rahas, Dance dramas, Lucknow became the cultural centre where the most reputed musicians, dancers and poets of the time flourished.
His Bhairavi thumari ‘Babul Mora Naihar Chhooto Jaay’ has been sung by several prominent singers. This Thumari represents the pain of the poet king himself when he was exiled from his beloved Lucknow.
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