It was a tragic Sunday for Indian classical music as renowned Sarangi player-vocalist and Padma Bhushan Ustad Sultan Khan passed away in Jodhpur due to kidney failure.
Ustad Sultan Khan who belonged to the Indore Gharana is known for his songs Piya Basanti Re, Albela Sajan Aayo Re and Leja Leja. CS talks to a few musicians who knew the legend as a loving mentor, colleague and friend:
I met Ustad Sultan Khan for the first time while recording for In Custody. He was very encouraging, and praised my voice. Later, we collaborated for the song Albela Sajan Aayo Re from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, for which he gave the voice for Vikram Gokhale, while I was Salman Khan's voice. His willingness to perform with young musicians showed his liberal attitude towards life and music. The world of Sarangi won't be the same without him.
I worked with him on an album Pyaar Ke Geet that was composed by one of his disciples, Sandesh Shandilya. We all knew him as a great Sarangi player and vocalist, but he was also an equally fun-loving man. In fact, I recollect many incidents when he lightened the mood around by pulling someone's leg. But we always took it in good humour as he was a very senior artist. He has contributed towards the growth of many young musicians with his immense knowledge and loving encouragement.
Ustad Sultan Khan was famous for his humility, simplicity and respectful nature. He was polite even to the youngest of musicians. I last met him while working for an album, Padharo Mhare Des. As a Sarangi player, he will perhaps remain the most famous and illustrious student of the Indore Gharana. Music lovers will also remember his wonderful songs Piya Basanti Re, Albela Sajan and Leja Leja. I am confident that his son Sabir Khan will carry forward his fabulous legacy.
Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
Ustad Sultan Khan was my idol, guru and friend. I first met him 15-16 years ago while working on an album as a keyboard player. We struck an instant rapport and he took me under his wings. Slowly, we became friends. When we (Sulaiman and I) opened a studio some years back, he was the first person to enter the studio and give it his blessings. Ustad Sultan Khan was also the man who encouraged me to hone my singing skills. He told me that he understood his singing talent only at the age of 60, but didn't want me to repeat that mistake by ignoring mine.