One of India’s greatest sarod masters, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, on Saturday was presented the ‘Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement’ at the Kamani Auditorium, for his “immense contribution to the enrichment and promotion of the Indian classical music”.
The award was presented to him by former diplomat Lalit Mansingh. Best known for his clear and fast ‘ekhara taans’, Khan was born in 1945 in Gwalior. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan (2001), and is among the tallest Indian classical musicians.
“I am so honoured and happy to be receiving this award. My life began from this corner of Mandi House,” the iconic sarod maestro said at the event, reminiscing about his initial days in the Kendra. He has been associated with the Kendra since his father and guru Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan joined the cultural institution as a guru, the Kendra said.
Khan is sixth in the lineage of a family devoted to Indian classical music’s Senia Bangash Gharana. He first performed when he was only six years old. Khan, in a previous email interview to IANS, had said he couldn’t think of doing anything other than playing the sarod as its sound had a global appeal.
“It was my duty, my pleasure, my passion to carry on the family tradition,” he had said, referring to the work of the generations before him and his ambition to take it forward.
The lifetime achievement award, named after Sumitra Charat Ram, the founder of the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, was instituted in 2010, and has since then been given to Kishori Amonkar, Pandit Jasraj, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Girija Devi (in music) and Mayadhar Raut, Kumudini Lakhia, and Birju Maharaj (in dance).
Speaking about Sumitra Charat Ram at the event, Khan said that she was like a mother to him. “There was my mother who delivered me, and there was Sumitra ji, who was like my mother,” he said. Khan is married to classical dancer Subhalakshmi Khan, and has two sons and disciples, Ayaan and Amaan Ali Bangash.
The Sarod master has performed in the House of Commons in London, the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi and the United Nations, New York. He has also taught music as visiting professor at several international universities. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has received the Fellowship of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the Unesco award, UNICEF National Ambassadorship, ‘Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters’ of France, and Fukuoka Cultural Grand Prize of Japan.