CHENNAI: Tunes of the shehnai used in the interludes of the song Tum Tak from the film Raanjhnaa still linger in our minds and ears. In fact, the composer A R Rahman had used tunes from the instrument in almost all the songs in the album, as a tribute to Ustad Bismillah Khan, a recipient of the Bharat Ratna, who popularised it in the classical arena.
.“Earlier, before Ustad came to the fore, the shehnai was played in weddings, processions and was being used mostly as a folk instrument. It was through his efforts that the shehnai had made its way into classical music. For decades now, almost all concerts begin with a shehnai rendition, as it has an auspicious feel while being played,” says S Ballesh, shehnai player and one of Bismillah Khan’s students, who has been playing the instrument for film songs and concerts for 39 years now. He and his students at Tansen Academy of Music, Chennai were gearing up for a tribute Ras Barse Ustav on Saturday to mark the maestro’s 99th birth anniverary.