Saturday, June 30, 2007

MUSICIANS NOW SEEK INSTANT SUCCESS: BISMILLAH KHAN

Benaras, September 13, 2006 (IANS) Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, who received the Bharat Ratna in 2001, is upset with the musicians of today and their disciples, saying they only hunger for instant success. The 'guru-shishya parampara', the sacred relationship between the musician teacher and the disciple, is "finished", bemoaned the nonagenarian musician. "Sab kuch khatam ho gaya (everything is finished)," Khan told a Delhi-based journalist couple Neena and Shivnath Jha at his Varanasi home.Neena Jha runs an all-women magazine 'The Indraprastha NCR', while her husband works with Sahara Time, a weekly news magazine.Khan said the teachers and disciples of today have no patience to hone their music."Today, both the guru and the disciple want instant results and have stopped believing in the virtue of patience. The guru today has neither discipline nor does his shishya possess 'adab' (respect). Everything is gone. Ab to Allah ka hi karam hoga to music bachega... sab khatam ho gaya (Only if god is merciful will music survive)."The musician, who has been ailing for a while, reminisced how his forefathers would perform for a few rupees a month at a temple in Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges."When my grandmother performed, do you know what the deal was fixed for? Fourteen annas!" he told the Jhas at his double-storied dilapidated house in a narrow lane of Sarai Rohla in Varanasi, 280 km from Lucknow. (Sixteen annas made a rupee then)The Jhas presented the great maestro, who has also received the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, a book on his life. They hope to raise money through the sales of the book to help the musician who is not well off financially.On his frail health, Khan said: "Sab Allah ki meharbani hai (it is all a gift of god). I am too old to fight age. But I still feel young. My begum (the shehnai) is with me."Khan, who turns 91 on March 21, will cut a 91-kg cake in celebration. He will pay tribute to the old maharajas of Dumraon and Darbhanga in Bihar whose palaces he used to visit as a child."I have never celebrated such a type of birthday," he said.Khan, who was born in Dumraon in Bihar, reminisced how he would do rigorous 'riyaaz' (practice) for four or five hours every morning under the guidance of his maternal uncle Alibux Khan. He regretted that his old age had made it difficult to go to some of the Hindu temples in Varanasi as he would do in earlier days. "I do feel like going there, but my old age prevents me," he said.To a question, Khan said he had never faced any hurdles on account of being a Muslim."Music has no caste. I have received love and affection all over the world. The government has given me all the four highest civilian awards in the past five decades." However, the maestro at the same time alleged that he had been denied an opportunity to play at New Delhi's India Gate because he was a Muslim.According to Khan, since musical functions had been held at the India Gate lawns earlier, he should also be invited to play there.The maestro became emotional when asked if the government had given him any financial aid. He received Rs.500,000 from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government when he was ill."No one in the government or any of the prime ministers has extended any financial support. Barring that (Rs.500,000), the government has extended no support. They have not released a single paisa which they promised me down the years."Asked how much he was expecting to get from the government, Khan said: "Not less than Rs.10 lakhs (1 million)."The maestro said he believes that music dispels all evil. "The shehnai is one such instrument whose melodious sound dispels all evil."

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