Bengaluru to pay tribute to Ustad Rashid Khan with monsoon ragas

A tribute to Ustad Rashid Khan titled Barsega Sawan will take place at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on June 14

Published - June 11, 2024 01:09 pm IST

Hindustani singer Ustad Rashid Khan at Barkha Ritu Rains and Ragas concert organised by Banyan Tree Events at Chowdaiah Hall in Bangalore on July 28, 2007.

Hindustani singer Ustad Rashid Khan at Barkha Ritu Rains and Ragas concert organised by Banyan Tree Events at Chowdaiah Hall in Bangalore on July 28, 2007. | Photo Credit: BHAGYA PRAKASH / The Hindu

In January this year, Hindustani semi-classical singer Rekha Surya, youngest disciple of Begum Akhtar, while paying tribute to Rashid Khan recollected her two-year stint at the Sangeet Research Academy (SRA), where they were batchmates, scholarship holders and budding artistes. “Even as a student, Rashid was considered a maestro by senior gurus at SRA. ‘Who are we to assess him, Rashid is our equal, not lesser than us,’ they had once commented in their weekly assessment,” Rekha recalls.

Samarthanam Trust for the disabled in association with the Academy of Music, Chowdiah Memorial Hall will be paying a musical tribute, Barsega Saawan, on June 14 in memory of Ustad Rashid Khan whose sudden passing at the age of 55, left the world of Indian classical music shocked. A panel discussion on Rashid Khan’s melodies would be followed by a jugalbandi by musicians Suma Sudhindra and Ustad Shafique Khan on the veena and sitar while vocalists Iman Das and Vaishali Srinivas will present the late Hindustani master’s favourite monsoon ragas.

Ustad Rashid Khan, was the great grandson of Enayat Hussain Khan, founder of the Rampur-Sehaswan Gharana. Rashid was born in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun but came to Kolkata with his family in 1980, when he was around 10 years old. 

Vaishali Srinivas

Vaishali Srinivas | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hindustani vocalist and founder of Omkar Music Academy, Iman Das, who had closely interacted with Rashid Khan over the years and is part of the Barsega Sawan tribute concert, says, “Be it his solo or duets with stalwarts such as Pt. Bhimsen Joshi or his stylistic presentation of thumri, ghazal and bhajan, Rashid Khan fashioned them straight from his heart. He was an accomplished vocalist and his gayaki was a mixture of Ustad Amir Khan, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and Hussain Khan.”

“Apart from his innate Rampur-Sehaswan Gharana style, he blended in the Kirana Gharana as well. His fluid taans, serene aalaps and enterprising spirit to sing in films shows he lacked for nothing in music. The song, ‘Aaoge Jab Tum Saajana’ from Jab We Met, became a super hit with his voice.” 

Heart-felt rendition

The time of year for the tribute concert is well thought out. “Rashid’s penchant for monsoon ragas is well known and Raag Desh wasparticularly close to his heart,” Iman says. “That is why we picked the title Barsega Sawan for this programme. Music composer Sandesh Shandilya is still grateful the maestro agreed to sing the number.”

Iman Das

Iman Das | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Elaborating on monsoon scales, Iman described the plurality and subtle variations in the Malhar Ragas and said these scales were known to be brimming with metaphors for different emotions. “The programme will also include kajri, the lighter form of tumri, said to be part of the rainfall offering. The inaugural song by Anusha Manjunath of Samarthanam, a student of mine, will feature a bandish made popular by Rashid. Anusha will also be singing at the Para-Olympics in Paris this September.”

Writer, columnist and singer Vaishali Srinivas as Joint Secretary of the Academy of Music Chowdiah Memorial Hall says, Rashid Khan’s music has long been part of her regular playlist. “I would like to describe the programme as a requiem for the maestro. The untimely demise of one of the legends of Hindustani khayal music has been a colossal loss. Almost all practitioners of Indian classical music have been deeply influenced by Rashid’s unparalleled gayaki and the lyricism of his khayals will perennially haunt me.” 

Vaishali had the privilege of interacting with Rashid when he became the recipient of the KK Murthy Chowdiah National Award at the Academy’s annual music festival a few years ago. “While I was in conversation with Rashid, I was enthralled by his simplicity and affability. When he found out I was a Hindustani classical vocalist, he remarked, “Arre! Aap bhi mujhe logon ka farmayish ke bare me kuch sujhav de sakte the!” (You too could inform me of people’s requests in music). I was stunned by his modesty and geniality,” says Vaishali.

Rashid Khan receiving the Chowdiah National Award

Rashid Khan receiving the Chowdiah National Award | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

She goes on to add, “After that on a few occasions, I have covered Rashid’s concerts as a freelance music columnist and have enjoyed many a memorable conversation with him. We discussed how one can unfold the raag bhaav, the radiant emotional insights that can be slipped in, the sensitive treatment of bandishes — those talks left an indelible imprint on my psyche.”

Vaishali says she was itching to organise a musical tribute to Rashid. “With the support of Mahantesh of Smarthanam and Iman Das, we were able to conceptualise Barsega Sawan.”

Other artistes performing at the event include Pandit Rajendra Nakod on the tabla, Surya Upadhay on the harmonium, mridangist BC Manjunath and SN Narayana Murthy on the ghata, with support from the Brigade Foundation.

Barsega Sawan, a tribute to Rashid Khan will take place at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on June 14, from 5.30 to 9.30pm. Entry free

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