The Maestro from Benaras by Juhi Sinha
“Bismillah Khan – Maestro from Benaras” is a book that gives the reader an insightful look into the home and heart, muse and music of one of the greatest artists that India has produced. It traces his journey from the small town of Dumraon to Benaras and thence to the world. The book follows Bismillah Khan as he grows from child to man, shagird to ustad, pupil to legend-from his early days when he charged five rupees for a programme to the days when each performance commanded anything between five to ten lakh rupees.
Bismillah Khan’s life is played out against the streets, galisand muhallas of Benaras, its ghats, temples, mehfils and musicians, bringing to life an era that has since passed. The author recreates in delightful detail the moves and manners of twentieth century Benaras, its wealthy aristocrats and courtesans and the many artists who interacted with both. The colourful strands of Benarasi society are seen as the perfect background for the extraordinary genius of Bismillah Khan.
The book also lovingly portrays the whims and foibles of Bismillah Khan—an artist, whose stature as a musical legend could never quite overshadow the wit, humour and charisma of the man.