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Updated January 10th, 2024 at 09:48 IST

Remembering Ustad Rashid Khan: Musical maestro’s timeless odyssey

Padma Shree awardee Ustad Rashid Khan was born in a small town in Uttar Pradesh and moved to Kolkata at the age of 12 for professional training.

Reported by: Republic Entertainment Desk
Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan | Image:ANI
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Renowned classical singer Ustad Rashid Khan passed away this afternoon. While a majority of Indian music lovers might know him best for his Bollywood songs like Aaoge Jab Tum and Allah Hi Raham, the singer has a rich legacy of classical music under his name that goes beyond the realms of popular music. 

Ustad Rashid Khan at a concert | Image: YouTube

Rashid Khan gave his first concert at the age of 11

Rashid Khan was born on July 1, 1968, in a small town named Sahaswan in Uttar Pradesh. Rashid Khan, who is also the nephew of Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, received his early music training from his maternal grand-uncle Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan.

Ustad Rashid Khan gave his first concert at the age of 11, followed by another breakthrough performance at an ITC concert in New Delhi. When Ustad Nissat Hussain Khan shifted to Kolkata (then Calcutta) to join the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in 1980, a 12-year-old Rashid followed his Guru and lived in the city for the majority of his life. 

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Reportedly, Rashid Khan was not too keen on pursuing music as a career. His mentor Ustad Nissar was a tough taskmaster who would insist on Rashid’s voice training starting from 4 am, making Rashid practise one note of the scale for hours on end. While Rashid did not enjoy such tough lessons as a child, he gradually got a grasp on the basics of melody and rhythm. It wasn’t until the age of 18 that Rashid Khan began to take his music career seriously.

Rashid Khan file image | Image: Pinterest

Legend was known for his mastery of Vilambit Khayal

While demonstrating a shared mastery of instrumental stroke-based styles, reminiscent of Nissar Hussain's renown, Ustad Rashid Khan gravitated towards the khayal style, presenting it in a manner uniquely his own. Known for his mastery in the 'Vilambit Khayalgayaki, he captivated millions of Hindustani vocal classical music enthusiasts for more than three decades.

Proficient in the art of the Tarana, much like his guru Nissar Hussain, he infused his renditions with a distinctive personal touch and weaved together a narrative deeply influenced by maestros such as Ustad Amir Khan and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. 

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Rashid Khan was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2022

Although the reputed classical singer was initially not too keen on singing for Bollywood films, he sang a few songs for films like Kisna, Jab We Met, My Name Is Khan. His song Aaoge Jab Tum in particular enjoys a cult following today. A few years later, Rashid Khan even turned composer for a Hindi film titled Ishqeria.

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In the 33 years of his life as an artist, Rashid Khan has been bestowed with multiple honours, both nationally and internationally.  The maestro was conferred with the Padma Shree in 2006 and later in 2022 was honoured with Padma Bhushan. Ustad Rashid Khan also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2006, which is one of the highest honours for an Indian artist.

Rashid Khan passed away in Kolkata where he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

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(With inputs from PTI)

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Published January 9th, 2024 at 18:17 IST

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