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I want to perform at India Gate: Bismillah Khan

By Mona Jain in New Delhi
August 13, 2003 21:24 IST
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After his dream performance at the Parliament House, Bharat Ratna Bismillah Khan has just one more unfulfilled dreamĀ -- to weave the magic of his shehnai at India Gate, the symbol of martyrdom.

And he says that given a chance, he would play "not any raag, but badhai."

Asked about his most memorable performance, the octagenarian artiste becomes nostalgic as he recalls India's first Independence Day when the counrty awoke to his melodius shehnai. "I was playing shehnai with my brother and we were moving towards the Red Fort with the then president Dr Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Although Pandit Nehru did not say a single word, I could see the happiness on his face...he was listening to my shehnai and liking it."

The Ustaad remembers he brought a thick khadi sherwani, pyjama and shoes for that special performance and treasured them for years and years.

About the present crop of singers and musicians, the Ustad says: "Neither do we have music like yesteryears nor do we have that kind of music lovers. We have experienced a different kind of Indian classical music, where we used to rehearse for hours and hours for just one sur. Nowadays people are using short-cuts and destroying the melody."

It is often said that the Ustaad could not market himself well enough. When asked about his reaction, he says: "Ek hi saadhe sab sadhe, sab saadhe sab jaaye" (if you follow one thing you will achieve it, but if you want everything, you won't achieve anything).

About the future of shehnai, the grand old man of Indian classical music says: "Shehnai mere saath nahi maregi, insha allah koi dusra Bismillah paida hoga...Bismillah se waise bhi sirf shuruvaat hoti hai (shehnai will not die with me. You will see many more Bismillah Khans in future. Bismillah anyways means 'the beginning').

In this era of remixes, if someone attempts to remix your music?

"Meetha lagega to tarif hi karunga, nahi to kahunga ki arey bewaakuf bhag ja (if it is melodious I will praise it surely, but if it is not I will shoo the idiot away)."
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Mona Jain in New Delhi
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