Bolo Bismillah...

Ustad Bismillah Khan's shehnai has managed to make me feel elated as well as brought tears to my eyes.

Knowledgeable people will have a lot more to say. I am not knowledgeable. For me, it is images...

An old toothless smiling visage.
A cross-legged man at the banks of the Ganges like an aging Krishna.
A raconteur sitting on a khatiya regaling his interviewer with fading memories.
A musician who tranformed the humble wedding "toon-toon-toon" sound into pure classical syrup.
A sad man in need of money who had to write a couple of years ago to the prime minister to help him out with his medical expenses.
A happy man who refused to move out of his humble kutiya and yet became a global citizen.

His shehnai sounds came sometimes like the pahadi plaint of a lover on a mountain top and sometimes as a cry from the depth of the ocean of a drowning sigh.

Such souls in sounds live on. Only bodies perish.

Bismillah is always the beginning.


  1. I knew I could read something beautiful here today.

    Farzana, I was watching the news this morning and "Knowledgeable" people said that the Shehnai has perished along with the musician. Do you think there will be someone who can fill in the vacuum? I often wondered if I would still like Shehnai vaadan as much as I did, if another man but Bismillah was playing. There was the wet smile in his eyes...always, that made all the more difference.

    People will miss him a lot.

  2. Thanks to the cable outage, I switched to DD and could watch a documentary on Bismillah. It was simply Beautiful! I did'nt know he could sing so well.

  3. Amandeep:

    I have tried to make up for the cursory tribute here in the other blog...I never look for replacements. I like to hold on to the memory of something precious.

    I too ended up watching the DD interview. Yes, beautiful...

    Your imagery of "wet smile in his eyes" was so evocative, reminded me of Gulzar..."geeli-geeli si hansee".


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