Centre for Indian Music Experience in Bangalore will display it for the public
Ustad Bismillah Khan’s most revered instrument, a shehnai he fondly referred to as ‘Begum’, has arrived in Bangalore.
Following a request from the Centre for Indian Music Experience (IME), the family of Bismillah Khan from Varanasi brought over one of Mr. Khan’s shehnais to be permanently showcased at the instrument gallery of the first interactive music museum here getting readied for a 2015 launch.
It was a proud moment for the people working behind this 50,000 sq ft, Rs. 40-crore project when they accepted the invaluable gift as the first of the memorabilia from Mr. Khan for the museum. Mementos of four other Bharat Ratna awardees will follow suit.
‘The parting with the family’s priceless treasure turned out to be a poignant moment for Mr. Khan’s son Zamin Hussain Bismillah Khan and son-in-law Ali Abbas Khan.
The 15-inch, dark brown teak wood shehnai with a metal flare bell along with its blow pipes intact, and the maestro’s snow white topi were handed over to P.V. Maiya, Chairman of the IME Trust and M.R. Jaishankar, CMD, Brigade Group, in the presence of Suma Sudhindra, Director, Outreach, IME and Manasi Prasad, Project Director, IME.
“Why wouldn’t I cry, it was the treasure of my father for more than eight decades. I feel as if my daughter is leaving me after marriage, bidaayi jaisa lag raha hai,” said Zamin Hussain, wiping his tears.
“My father-in-law had 10 shehnais, each of which he would use for the characteristic quality of clarity, sound, range and touch that it offered. Every piece was dear to him as he practiced for 14 hours a day,” said Ali Abbas Khan.
“Our guru guided us into having one hour of riyaaz [music practice] and one hour of rest alternating the whole day,” he said.
One and only
Zamin Hussain said he was happy that the instrument “would permanently be on display at this museum.”
“Just like Mirza Ghalib, the poet, there can be only one Bismillah Khan! My father always said, when you pray don’t ask for money but beseech for divine sur.”