The ‘Albela’ Rashid Khan, India’s Most Popular Classical Vocalist

Here’s wishing Hindustani classical vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan on his birthday.

3 min read
The ‘Albela’ Rashid Khan, India’s Most Popular Classical Vocalist

Ustad Rashid Khan is perhaps the most talented, and the youngest member of the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana at present. The great grandson of the legendary Ustad Inayat Hussain Khan Saheb, the founder of the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana, he features among the most prominent Hindustani classical vocalists of the country.

The Rampur-Sahaswan gayaki is closely related to the Gwalior Gharana. The gharana style is also known for the diversity and intricacy of the taans. Although, initially, he was not inclined towards learning music, Ustad Khan eventually went on to learn music under the tutelage of Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and Ustad Nissar Husain Khan, two doyens of the same gharana. Through his rigorous training and, of course, by virtue of a rigorous riyaz regimen, Ustad Rashid Khan has made a niche for himself in the field of India music.

Ustaad Rashid Khan during a performance. (Courtesy: Ustaad Rashid Khan’s Facebook page)

An Experimental Musician

Ustad Rashid Khan is known for his experiments and innovations in Hindustani classical music. His swar-prayog or application of notes has been a trend-setter of sorts.

In his book The Lost World of Hindustani Music, Kumaraprasad Mukherjee writes:

Rashid Khan of late, drifted away from his ustad, Nissar Hussain Khan’s style. His sur, ‘Swar-pryog’, or application of notes, and the pianissiomo-fortissimo effect that he creates with his voice-throw are just as extraordinary as his taans… There is nothing wrong with a young man searching for a style, but one wishes all the same, he would not forsake the bahlawa bant and bol-taans of his ustad’s gayaki.


Beyond the Confines of Hindustani Classical Music

Ustaad Rashid Khan performing at a concert. (Courtesy: Ustaad Rashid Khan’s Facebook page)

Ustad Rashid Khan is not a name familiar only to folks who keep track of Indian classical music. He is today a popular name among the younger generation also. Who can forget Aaoge Jab Tum O Saajana from the Kareena-Shahid starrer Jab We Met or Allah Hi Reham in the Shah Rukh Khan starrer My Name is Khan? Though it’s rare to find Indian classical vocalists in the arena of Bollywood music, Ustad Rashid Khan has created a great fan following with his contribution to Hindi film music.


Today, he is one the most sought after vocalists of the country. His renderings stand out for their emotional overtones, delivered  in his idiosyncratic melodic elaboration.

“There is now at least one person in sight who is an assurance for the future of Indian vocal music,” the legendary Pandit Bhimsen Joshi had once said about Rashid Khan. Today we can be assured that the new generation won’t be strangers to classical Hindustani music tradition as long as practitioners like Ustad Rashid Khans are around.

Many happy returns of the day to the ustad!

(The writer is an ardent music lover. He is currently Secretary, K.K. Kapoor Sangeet Research Academy, Lucknow)

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