14 June, 2021

Ragas For Late Winter

Ustad A. Rashid Khan, 105, Hindustani singer extraordinaire, Padma Bhushan

Sandipan Chatterjee
Ragas For Late Winter

“When you are immersed in music, time goes by and you don’t realise until later that you have been practicing for 10, 12, sometimes 14 hours. Likewise, I never consciously thought about the passing of years. So when it is pointed out to me that I am 105 years old, it doesn’t feel any different than when I was 95 or 85 or 75.” This is Hindustani classical vocalist of the Gwalior gharana, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, who won the Padma Bhushan this year and who turns 106 this August.

Sitting cross-legged on a carpet on the floor of his house inside the ITC Sangeet Research Academy (he has lived and taught here for nearly three decades), the maestro of Hindustani classical genres like khayal, dhrupad, dhamar and thumri exudes an aura of being at once grounded and detached. “But why did it take so long to recognise his talent? It should have come long ago. We are fortunate that he is 105 and is still with us to receive the honour,” says Prasad Khaparde, a former disciple. But Khansaheb, as he is fondly called, is quite nonchalant. He is aware...

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