Khadim Hussain Khan
Khadim Hussain Khan
The prodigiously learned Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan Saheb was considered to be one of the foremost Agra gayaki singers of his time. Born in Atrauli (in Uttar Pradesh) in 1907, he studied music from his father Altaf Hussain Khan and then went on to receive the rich and varied repertoire of the Agra Gharana from his grand uncle Kallan Khan, both celebrities of their time and court musicians of Jaipur. Young Khadim`s studentship with the latter who was the younger son of Ghagge Khuda Baksh, the gharana`s pioneer was long and arduous: it lasted for 12 hours everyday for over 12 years.
The ustad settled in Bombay from the late twenties and was associated with musical life in Mumbai for several decades. He was far more widely known as an ideal teacher than as a concert performer. Moreover, his proficiency in Layakari was beyond the comprehension of the uninitiated listener. Although he had been a broadcaster since the inception of AIR, he made teaching his life`s mission. In that role, he generously shared his vidya with his shishyas in the true manner of a traditional guru.
A stickler for perfection, he firmly believed that swar-ka-lagao was the very basis of true musical expression. He never tired of impressing on his disciples that one had first to master the swar, since it provided the most solid foundation for the edifice of musical architecture.
The number of Khadim Hussain’s pupils is legion and includes well-known artistes of the past and present. Ustad Latafat Hussain (his younger brother) and Lalith Rao were among his disciples who made a name in the field. He was also a composer of great merit, composing under the nom-de-plume `Sajan Piya`. Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan earned the double distinction of winning both the Maharashtra State Award and the much-coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the same year (for 1978), in recognition of his services to Hindustani music. Then came the Padma Bhushan in 1983, followed by the prestigious Tansen Samman from the government of Madhya Pradesh in 1986. He was also a recipient of the ITC Award. Yet to the manner born, such distinctions made no difference to him. He remained humble and unspoilt by success.
He was nearing his nineties when he died on January 11, 1993, leaving behind a legacy of a 110 choice bandishes. It was in the fitness of things that a trust was set up by a team of his devoted disciples, in the mid seventies, under the name of "Sajan Milap".