Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ustad Bismillah Khan

Ustad Bismillah Khan (March 21, 1916 - August 21, 2006)

Ustad Bismillah Khan, who popularised and brought shehnai to the centrestage of classical music, died of cardiac arrest at a Varanasi hospital yesterday. Shehnai is traditionally played on weedings and other auspicious occasions in India. Ustadji brought it to the concert level and almost single-handedly made it popular. May his soul rest in peace.

When I was in my teens, I had seen an old movie Goonj Uthi Shehnai on Doordarshan. In the movie Rajendra Kumar had played a shehnai player. The recital of shehnai in the movie was very very good. I was mesmerised by it. It was the highlight of the movie. Later on I came to know that the shehnai in the movie was actually played by Ustad Bismillah Khan. This fact remained in my memory for quite some time.

When I had got married on August 28, 1990, I purhcased few casettees of shehnai recitals by Ustad Bismillah Khan and requested the manager of the marriage hall, where I got married, to play these casettes while the marriage ceremony was being performed and also at the reception. I felt at that time as Ustadji is blessing us with his magical shehnai. Next Monday, I will be completing 16 years of married bliss, and as a tribute to Ustadji, I will play those casettes.

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