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Bismillah Khan's 'last wish' courts trouble

The shehnai maestro, Ustad Bismillah Khan's "last wish" to perform at Darbhanga is unlikely to be fulfilled, following disagreement over payment.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 21:27 IST

Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan's "last wish" to perform at Darbhanga in Bihar is unlikely to be fulfilled following disagreement over the "huge payment" being demanded for the performance.

The Darbhanga-based Lalit Narayan Mithila University, which invited the Bharat Ratna recipient to perform, has decided to postpone the invitation, said university officials.

They said the demand of more money has come in between fulfilling the "last wish" of the nonagenarian musician and the university.

"He will not be invited to perform in lieu of the huge payment being demanded by his manager," a senior official said.

Bismillah Khan had himself expressed a desire to perform in Darbhanga during his 91st birthday celebrations in Varanasai last month. He had said it was his last wish to perform in Darbhanga and at India Gate in New Delhi.

"I will be overwhelmed if I get an opportunity to perform at Darbhanga in Bihar. I would like to take a dip in the same pond where I used to take twice a day in my childhood," Khan had said then.

The musician has spent a considerable period of his struggling days in Darbhanga, known for its cultural atmosphere under the patronage of the Darbhanga royal family.

Moved by his offer and emotional attachment with Darbhanga, the university Vice Chancellor Rajmani Prasad Singh last week invited the maestro to perform in Mithila in Darbhanga.

Singh sent two senior university officials to Varanasi to meet Khan and personally invite him to perform in Darbhanga and also finalised the date. Singh too decided to meet the maestro. But officials were shocked when Rs5,00,000 was demanded for the performance.

The officials told Khan's manager that the university would give Rs51,000 for the performance. However, the manager reportedly said it was not possible to finalise the programme. The officials returned empty handed.

When contacted, Singh told IANS over telephone that the university had postponed the invitation for the time being. "We have invited him to perform in Darbhanga keeping his emotions in mind, but now the demand for more money has spoilt everything," he said.

He said the university was not in a position to pay more money.

After Singh's invite to Khan for a performance, Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal had hailed the vice-chancellor's initiative.