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Shehnai on the verge of extinction in Bangladesh

Shehnai on the verge of extinction in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Sep 1, Shehnai, a wind instrument, is on the verge of extinction in Bangladesh, laments a music exponent.

Shamsur Rahman, who partly learnt to play the shehnai by listening to records of India’s celebrated Ustad Bismillah Khan, has said it is “almost impossible” to survive in Bangladesh as a shehnai player.

The tradition is almost becoming extinct in Bangladesh and it has compelled Rahman to concentrate more on flutes, though he says “my heart always seeks the soothing melodies of the shehnai”, the New Age newspaper reported Wednesday.

“When students come to me to learn Shehnai, I teach them flute along with it,” he said.

Shehnai as a musical instrument started getting popularity in Bangladesh since the early ’70s.

An instrumentalist of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Rahman has made a considerable contribution to popularising this instrument.

A former football player, he borrowed the instrument once from a villager who rebuked him by saying, “Don’t think it is as easy as playing football”.

“I took the comment as a challenge,” Rahman recalled.

After his initial lessons in classical music from Ustad Sirajuddin Miah, Rahman found no trainer. He started to learn by himself hearing the records of Indian shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and continued practising.

Rahman joined Bangladesh Radio in 1974 as a shehnai artiste. But what really helped him was a film career.

Many film music directors of that era like Debu Bhattacharya, Alauddin Ali, Satya Saha, Reza Hossain Khan, Subal Das, Sheikh Sadi Khan and others felt they needed to use shenai in their music and asked Rahman to play for them.

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