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‘Ustad shared a strong bond with Nehru, Indira, Rajiv’

Hussain recalled Ustad visited Russia for a concert in 1987 where the Russian government honoured him. “He returned to Banaras and got an invitation from Pakistan for a concert. Ustad, however, refused to visit Pakistan, saying he would go only if the government sends him,” he said.

lucknow Updated: Feb 06, 2017 14:26 IST
Sudhir Kumar
Sudhir Kumar
Hindustan Times
Ustad Bismillah Khan,UP elections,Shehnai maestro
Nazim, son of Ustad Bismillah Khan, showing pictures of the maestro with members of Gandhi family. (HT Photo)

Despite maintaining a distance from politics, shehnai maestro late Ustad Bismillah Khan shared a close bond with country’s first Prime Minister Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Gandhi family.

At his house in Harha Sarai area, one can spot Ustad’s photographs with former PM late Rajiv Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Talking to HT, Ustad’s youngest son Nazim Hussain, 58, says his father termed his relation with the Gandhi family as personal and never used it for personal gain.

“He strongly believed politics and music are two different worlds and artistes should not mix the two,” said Hussain.

“Abba often used to praise Nehruji and Indira Gandhi for their generosity. He played shehnai before many foreign delegates on their request,” he pointed out.

Hussain recalled Ustad visited Russia for a concert in 1987 where the Russian government honoured him. “He returned to Banaras and got an invitation from Pakistan for a concert. Ustad, however, refused to visit Pakistan, saying he would go only if the government sends him,” he said.

“When the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi came to know of it, he invited Ustad on tea at his official residence and requested him to accept the offer for the concert in Pakistan. The government also made arrangements for his visit,” Hussain said.

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“On his return, Rajiv Gandhi invited him to his official residence where he discussed several issues with Abba. He appealed to the PM to do something for veteran artistes,” he added.

Hussain said Ustad used to laud Rajiv Gandhi for his vision for development.

“Abba was in deep sorrow after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He also called on Sonia Gandhi and consoled her. After a few years, he visited Sonia again when she became the Congress president,” he said.

Hussain said after Ustad’s death in 2006, his lost touch with the Gandhis. He later wrote a letter to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi but did not get any response. He said if Rahul visits his house, he would welcome him.

He also lauded chief minister Akhilesh Yadav for recognising his contribution to music and honouring him with Yash Bharati award. Hussain, who is a tabla player, wants the government to set up an institution in the name of the maestro.

Read more| East meets west: Bismillah Khan’s German fan learns folk tunes

First Published: Feb 06, 2017 14:26 IST