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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ustad Bismillah Khan - A Rare Jewel

Ever since I heard Ustad Bismillah Khan was ill, I have been praying that he recover well enough to play the Shehnai on Republic Day (Jan 26th) from the India Gate as per his last wish. The news earlier today that he was recovering well and singing songs to the doctors gave me a sign of hope. But unfortunately, Ustad passed away on the wee hours of the morning today. His last wish was not to be! :(

A true patriot, when he was offered citizenship during a concert in Europe, he is supposed to have asked the sponsors - "Ganga bahti hai kya idhar? (Does the Ganga flow here?)".

Just a few hours ago, I was listening to the very patriotic song from Swades in which the Shehnai plays a haunting tune. I believe the notes for this are by Ustad Bismillah Khan. The song "Yeh jo desh hai tera, swades hai tera, tujhe hai pukara, ye woh bandhan hai jo tooth nahin sakta" rings true of one of the best musicians that ever graced the Earth!

He lives on through his music.

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