Ustad Rais Khan
Ustad Rais Khan, born at Indore in 1939, belongs to one of the
oldest and renowned musical families that still exists today. He
is a direct descendant, through thirty generations, of the court
musician to the Mughal Emperor in the 15th century. He is the torch
bearer of a lineage which dates back to Ustad Haddu, Hassu and
Ustad Rais Khan's forefathers settled in Indore and hence the stamp of "Mewat Gharana Baaj" to his style. His father, Ustad Mohammed Khan, started giving taalik to his son when he was only two and a half years old by presenting him a coconut shell Sitar. At the age of five, Khansahib gave his first public performance at the Sundarbhai Hall in the presence of the then Governor of Bombay Sir Maharaja Singh and his wife. Bye the age of nine he became an established artist of Hindustani Classical Music. In 1955, he was selected from a huge list of competitors from all over India to represent the Indian Nation at the International Youth Festival in Warsaw. At this event he won the Gold Medal in the string instruments category in which there were 111 competitors. This is the only gold medal received by an Indian in this category till today. Since then, Khansahib has been touring extensively throughout the world and delighting packed audiences at major capital cities.
Khan sahib's compelling presence and a unique and inimitable style of playing has captivated audiences all over the world. Khan sahib's music has an intriguing if not hypnotic effect even on those listeners who are not aware of the complexities of the Sitar. The fact that Khansahib is an accomplished vocalist also adds to his popularity. At the end of his recitals, he often sings and demonstrates the same on the Sitar which thrills his listeners. They immediately see how vocal music closely relates to instrumental music. Had he taken up vocal music from the beginning he might have become a great vocalist too.
Ustad Rais Khan has also been involved with the Indian Film music for about 30 years. Though many of his songs are very popular, most people do not know that those songs were created by him. Khansahib is married to the one of the most popular singers of Pakistan, Bilquees Khanum. He is the first Indian to have a recital televised on the PTV network in 1985.