India celebrates 102nd birthday of shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan

Khan performing Shehnai Music

He performed at the Red Fort on India's first Independence Day and also on the first Republic Day ceremony on January 26, 1950.

In 1947, when India declared its Independence from the ramparts of the Red Fort, it was Bismillah Khan's shehnai that followed the announcement. As the title "Ustad" suggest, he is known as the king of shehnai music and is responsible for popularising the kind of music all across the globe. Reports on NDTV suggest that till date, the Independence Day celebrations begin with his opening notes. He was awardees of the Bharat Ratna in 2001, Padma Bhushan in 1968, Padma Vibhushan 1980 and the Padma Shri in 1961.

"Though he started playing in public at the age of 14, Khan's performance at the All India Music Conference in Kolkata in 1937 became a defining moment in his career". However, in 1966, the 'Usta of Shehnai accepted to perform at the Edinburgh festival on account that he should first be taken on an all-expense-paid trip to Mecca and Medina.

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Celebrating what would have been the 102nd birthday of Ustad Bismillah Khan, Google is marking the day with a special doodle.

"Ustad ji was famously devoted to his art and often referred to his shehnai as his begum (wife)". He acted in Satyajit Ray's much acclaimed Jalsaghar and played the shehnai in Goonj Uthi Shehnai, a 1959 film directed by Vijay Bhatt.

Ustab Bismillah Khan single-handedly transformed how the world looked at shehnai. "Despite the fame, Ustad Bismillah Khan remained a simple man, living his whole life in Varanasi and dreaming of a world unified by music", Google writes in its blog. Did you know, his shehnai music was used in Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar?

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