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Bismillah monograph to fund house repair

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Delhi (UNI): The sale proceeds of the first-ever autographed monograph on late Ustad Bismillah Khan is to be used to fulfill his cherished dream of educating his grand-children and renovating his ancestral house in Bihar besides meeting his funerary rites expenses. Neena and Shivnath Jha, a Delhi-based couple who brought out the monograph, will extend financial support to the Shehnai maestro's family for the ceremony on his 40th day of death, known as 'Chaliswan', on September 17 at his Sarai Herha house in Benia Bagh in the temple town of Benaras.

Delhi Tourism has allotted a special stall in 'Dilli Haat', the resplendent plaza of ethnic wares, to make available the monograph to book lovers and those with an ear for music. ''We feel pleasure in extending our support to fulfilling the unfulfilled desires of late Ustad Bismillah Khan,'' Delhi Tourism CMD Sanat Kaul said. Besides RadioCity-91 FM, several booksellers in the capital have come forward to promote the monograph for a noble cause. The FM channel will make an appeal to the listeners to pitch in by buying a monograph on the late Ustad, who serenaded India with his blissful 'ragas' on shehnai.

''Ustad Bismillah Khan hailed from Bihar and so do we. When he saw the photograph of his ancestral house in the monograph, he requested us to renovate his house and also provide education to his grand-children, especially girls,'' the couple said. A Patna-based journalist, Alok Jain, took the photographs of his house, now in a dilapidated condition. Four years ago, when Bismillah Khan did not have enough resources to meet his needs, the then NDA government arranged for his performance at the Parliament Annexe, and the Ustad had to virtually give a charity show for his own benefit.

Moved by his plight, the couple and the photographer thought of bringing out a monograph on the life and art of the Ustad to extend financial support to him. Autographed by Bismillah Khan, the monograph depicts life and times of the maestro, his fascination for the Ganga, Benaras and music as also some of his rare photographs. It was released by Bismillah Khan himself on his 91st birthday on March 25. Hailing the efforts of the trio, Khan Sahib wrote on its cover page: ''Alham Do lillah (God be praised) - Bismillah Khan". ''The sales proceeds of the monograph will be spent on the promotion of shehnai, renovate his ancestral house and impart education to the children of his family,'' the couple said.

Over a decade ago, former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad laid the foundation stone of a town hall to be built in Dumraon, the birthplace of Bismillah Khan. His wife Rabri Devi, then the Chief Minister, announced construction of a community hall in his honour. The projects, however, failed to get off the ground. Bismillah Khan, whose 'last wish' to perform at the India Gate remained unfulfilled, single-handedly pioneered the conversion of Shehnai, a mundane ceremonial instrument, into one capable of expressing a range of human emotions. He enthralled the audience with a sterling performance from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, 1947. He made his first major public appearance in 1930 at the age of 14 when he played with his uncle Ali Bax at the All India Music Conference in Allahabad. His next performance was at a music conference in Lucknow where he won a gold medal for his recital.

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