FDC Name:Ustad Bismillah Khan
Issue Date:21st AUG'2008
Details:The Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh released a commemorative postage stamp in the denomination of Rs five on the celebrated musician Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan on his death anniversary on August 21, 2008 at New Delhi.
- Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916 at Bhirung Raut Ki Gali, in Dumraon, Bihar as the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan. His ancestors were court musicians and used to play in Naqqar khana in the princely states of Bhojpur, now in Bihar. His father was a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon Estate. He received his training under his uncle, the late Ali Baksh 'Vilayatu' a shehnai player attached to Varanasi's Vishwanath Temple. Khan was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous classical instrument. He brought the shehnai to the center stage of Indian music with his concert in the Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937.
- He was credited with having almost monopoly over the instrument as he and the shehnai are almost synonyms. Khan had the rare honor of performing at Delhi's Red Fort on the eve of India's Independence in 1947. He also performed Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India's first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950.
- His recital had become a cultural part of India's Independence Day Celebrations, telecast on Doordarshan every year on August 15th. After the Prime Minister's speech from Lal Qila (the Red Fort,) in Old Delhi, Doordarshan would broadcast a live performance by the shehnai maestro. This tradition dated from the days of Pandit Nehru.
- Bismillah Khan was conferred with the highest civilian award 'Bharat Ratna' in 2001. He was earlier awarded Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi (1994), Talar Mausiquee from Republic of Iran (1992), Padma Vibhushan (1980), Padma Bhushan (1968), Padma Shri (1961), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1956), Tansen Award by Government of Madhya Pradesh, Three medals in All India Music Conference, Calcutta (1937), and "Best Performer" in All India Music Conference, Allahabad (1930). Bismillah Khan had honorary doctorates from Banaras Hindu University, Visva Bharati University, and Santiniketan.
- He played in almost every capital city across the world. He also participated in World Exposition in Montreal, Cannes Art Festival, and Osaka Trade Fair. His 80th birthday was celebrated by World Music Institute in New York. Khan had a brief association with movies. He played the shehnai for Dr Rajkumar's role of Appanna in the movie Sanaadi Appanna.
- He acted in Jalsaghar, a movie by Satyajit Ray and provided sound of shehnai in Goonj Uthi Shehnai. Khan is one of the finest musicians in post-independent Indian Classical music and one of the best examples of hindu-muslim unity in India. Though a pious Shi'ite Muslim, he was also, like many Indian musicians, regardless of religion, a devotee of Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and the arts, and often played at temples, including the famous Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, on the banks of the river Ganga.
- He passed away on August 21, 2006 at the age of ninety. The Government of India declared one day of national mourning on his death. His body was buried at Fatemain burial ground of old Varanasi under a neem tree with 21-gun salute from Indian Army.
- Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, instituted the 'Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar' in 2007, in his honor, for young artistes in the field of music, theatre and dance.
- C R Pakrashi designed the Stamp and the First Day Cover. Alka Sharma designed the pictorial first day postmark. Brochure containing write-up and technical data was issued on the occasion. The First Day Cover and the Brochure are priced at Rs 2 each. Security Printing Press, Hyderabad printed the stamps by wet offset in the quantities of 0.4 million each.