January 28, 2021 5:00:39 pm
Ghulam Mustafa Khan, a celebrated Indian musician, passed away January 17, 2021 at his residence in Bandra. He was 89. The connoisseur of music — loved and revered by everyone who knew him personally and those who appreciated his oeuvre — belonged to the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana of music. Born into a family of musicians in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun, he was awarded the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan, and the Padma Vibhushan in his lifetime.
For his daughter-in-law Namrata Gupta Khan, however, he was a “humble, simple, innocent and a noble man”. “Anyone who visited him, wouldn’t return hungry. They would come during meal hours, and he would always share and never expect anything in return. He was not only my father-in-law but my good friend, too,” Namrata told indianexpress.com recently.
In 2018, she completed a book that encapsulates the Hindustani classical musician’s inspirational life. Titled ‘A Dream I Lived Alone‘, the biography begins from his childhood days, and covers every other important detail of his life. “I started working [on the book] in 2014, and jotted down the years in ascending order. It took me a while [to finish] because despite being so talented, he was a man of few words. The biggest challenge was to get him to open up and share his life experiences, achievements, moments of pride and glory, as well as his disappointment and struggles.”
Namrata said the story “needed to be penned”. She would notice her father-in-law every day, the things he did differently, and noted them down. The conversations ranged from his childhood experiences to his troubled adolescence, and all the recognition he had received.
“When I became a part of this culturally-rich family, I found myself in a unique position of being a member, as well as someone who could give a fresh spin with words, and co-write this book with him.”
The story of Namrata’s marriage itself is heartwarming, and in the current socio-political climate, it presents itself as both powerfully-defiant and endearing. Her father-in-law, naturally, played a huge role in it. “I met my husband [singer Rabbani Mustafa Khan] when I was in my first year of college, pursuing B.Com… [we met] through a common friend, became friends, and then dated for 12 years.”
It was “Ustadji“, who first visited her parents, to ask for Namrata’s hand for his third son. “He had told my father, ‘Humaari beti aapke ghar pal rahi thi, hum apni beti ko apne ghar lene aaye hain. (Our daughter was staying at your place, we have come to take her back to her home)’. That one statement changed my life,” Namrata, who, until then, was unaccustomed to Indian classical and traditional music, shared.
As part of her work — Namrata runs an event management company — she has travelled intensively around the world with many artistes. “But Ustadji was different. He was always teaching and blessing everyone,” she said while admitting the thought of being a writer never crossed her mind. “It’s just that his life story surprised and inspired me and I wanted his story to reach a new generation that aspires to become something in life.”
The musician’s passing has been most unfortunate for the country, but for his family, it has been an “irreparable loss”. Namrata, however, is hopeful that by reading about the struggles of Ustadji, other budding musicians can learn about the importance of “passion, riyaaz, and dedication”.
“A successful artiste always works on their craft with people that make them better; people who challenge them, push them to dig deeper, work harder to make better art. It’s never done alone. It’s always created, manufactured and orchestrated,” she said, adding that even in death, the musician “lives in us and shall live forever through his music”.
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