Bismillah Khan : The Shehnai Maestro

Bismillah Khan was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous classical instrument. He brought the shehnai to the center stage of Indian music with his concert in the Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937. He was credited with having almost monopoly over the instrument as he and the shehnai are almost synonyms. Hi birth name was Qamaruddin Khan.

Dhun (from the film 'Goonj Uthi Shehnai')- Bismillah Khan

Dhun - Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram - Bismillah Khan

Khan is one of the finest musicians in post-independent Indian Classical music and one of the best examples of Hindu-Muslim unity in India and had played shenai to audience across the world. Khan had the rare honor of performing at Delhi's Red Fort on the eve of India's Independence in 1947. He also performed Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India’s first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950. He was known to be devoted to his art form that he referred to shehnai as his BEGUM (wife in Urdu) after his wife died. On his death, as an honour, his shehnai was also buried along with him. He was known for his vision of spreading peace and love through music.

Kajri Keharwa - Bismillah Khan

Chaiti Dhun - Bismillah Khan

Thumri Bhairavi - Aaye Na Balam - Bismillah Khan

Bismillah Khan was a very private person and shunned publicity. He believed he "should be heard, not seen". A view of Varanasi ghats Khan insisted on dying in Varanasi. He was known to be moody during concerts. The BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi says he saw Khan throwing microphones and refusing to play unless everything was to his liking. Khan played in just one Hindi film, Goonj Uthi Shehnai (Echoes of the Shehnai), in 1959.
He was reportedly annoyed and stormed off a film set when a music director interrupted his playing and asked him to play a note in a certain way. Since that day he never looked towards Bollywood. He did, however, play shehnai in the popular Kannada-language film, Sanaadi Appanna, in the 1970s. Khan was known for living a simple and austere life at his home in a narrow alleyway near the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi.

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