Ustad Bismillah Khan implores govt. | music | Hindustan Times
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Ustad Bismillah Khan implores govt.

Shehnai Samrat and Bharat Ratna, Ustad Bismillah Khan, says that the Government has not paid any heed to his request for financial assistance.

music Updated: Jun 16, 2003 16:53 IST
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Shehnai Samrat and Bharat Ratna, Ustad Bismillah Khan, says that the Government has not paid any heed to his request for financial assistance.

Come to think of any auspicious event and it seems incomplete without the sonorous music of Shehnai and that too the one played by Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Khan, known for his tenderness and simple living, is suffering from various kinds of illnesses and is in immediate need of financial aid. The maestro,who has written to the Prime Minister twice requesting him to provide some assistance, has not received any help till now.

"I have asked the government to give me some financial help in a way so that when I am not be able to perform, there will be some money to look after myself and my grandchild, but the government has not done anything", said Ustad Bismillah Khan. "I sent my request to the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee twice but he has not done anything for me, yet", he added.

The 90-year-old Shehnai player lives on the top-most floor of a small house in a crowded lane in Varanasi. He lives like any other man in the locality without any luxury. A small bed, a telephone and a lantern is all that one can see in his room.

The temperature of Varanasi reached 45 degree Celsius in the last few days, and it affected his health, making him weak and fragile. But the lack of proper treatment and the scorching heat have not deterred the confidence of the Ustad.

"Pray to God so that I can regain my strength and come back to my normal self. I will sing for you then and I will charge quarter of the amount that I charge now", said Khan.

"I come from a poor family, we did not have any comfort then. So, why should I spend money on these luxurious items now", asks Khan. "I played Shehenai in Balaji's temple for 18 years. So 18 years of practice is bound to bring some fruit", he adds.

Ustad Bismillah Khan Sahib poured his heart out into Raga Kafi from Red Fort on the eve of India's first Republic Day ceremony. Apart from the Bharat Ratna he has been bequeathed with the Sangeet Natak Academi Award, the Tansen Award from Madhya Pradesh government and also the prestigious Padma Vibhushan.

He has played in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Canada, West Africa, USA, USSR, Japan, Hong Kong and almost every capital city across the world. His music is like an ocean and he feels that he has barely reached the shore even after spending years of his life and still searching for the shore.