[5] Patronage of State and Migration from Indore

After completion of his training in music, Ustad Amir Khan started to sing in music concerts and his fame began spreading. Ustad Amir Khan went to Nathadwara from Indore. His father was also with him. He had already contacts with Vallabh Sect. Nathadwara is main center of Vallabh Sect. There he stayed for some days. He was paid Rs.35/- for singing in a program, entry of which is available in the books of account there. A copy of the same is preserved with Goswami Gokulotsavji Maharaj, Chief of Vallabh Sect.


From Nathadwara he went to Kankrauli for few days and from Kankrauli to the court of Maharaja of Kishangarh, who was follower of Vallabh Sect. From there he went to Raipur and then to Kanpur.


Near about 1936, with permission of his father, Amir Khan went to Raigarh [Chattisgarh] and there he became a singer in the court of Maharaja Chakradhar Singh, for salary of Rs.300/- per month. About his stay at Raigarh, following published record is available: -

“Mr. Amir Khan has live in the court of Raigarh for the period of one year”[1]


He came back to Indore from Raigarh. He expressed his desire to his father for going to Bombay. With his permission, he reached Islamic Club at Arab Gali, Bombay, where his maternal uncle, Mohammed Khan and Amanat Ali Khan, a nephew of Rajab Ali Khan lived. For livelihood, There Amir Khan started giving tuitions. While he was staying at Bombay, his father Shahmir Khan passed away.


In 1941, Ustad Amir Khan went to Calcutta from Bombay. There he lived at the residence of Sitar maestro, Vilayat Khan. Vilayat Khan’s sister, Sharifan was the second wife of Ustad Amir Khan.


There he could not get desired success in the programs of music, though with help of harmonium player, Gyan Prakash Ghose, he got opportunity to demonstrate his art in some good music concerts. Also he could get job of training some students. The livelihood could be carried on by tuitions and programs of Akashwani.


Later on he lived in Calcutta in a separate house. But in 1944, during the last phase of second world war, he decided to leave Calcutta and go to Delhi, as there was probability of bombardment on Calcutta.


In those days, Akashwani Calcutta paid only Rs. 30/- as remuneration. Akashwani Delhi offered  remuneration of Rs. 600/- which he accepted and reached Delhi.


In Delhi, besides giving his programs at Akashwani, he also performed in music concerts. His singing was used to be accompanied on Sarangi by Ustad Bundu Khan.


Ustad Amir Khan lived in Siddique Building in Old Delhi at cross roads of GB Road and Ajmeri Gate for six to seven years. In those days famous artists lived in Delhi, most important among them was Abdul Wahid Khan.


At the time of partition between India and Pakistan, communal riots started in Delhi. Therefore he returned to Calcutta again. After living there for two to three years, he went to Bombay in 1950. He lived in Bombay for a long period, almost for 21 years.


In beginning, he had to teach music to prostitutes for earning his livelihood. He lived in the second floor of the building named Noor Mohammed, situated near area of prostitutes. This house was located at Girgaon, near Kennedy Bridge, opposite Congress House. The recording executive officer of HMV of those days, Mr. G.N. Joshi writes: -

“The area in Bombay where Khan Saheb lived, going there not only during the night but even in day, was considered socially wrong for a reputed person of noble family.”[2]


In the neighboring building of a lady singer lived the famous vocalist, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Tabla player, Ahmed Jan Thirakwa. Thereafter, Ustad Amir Khan built his own house ‘Basant’ at Peder Road and started living there. While living at Bombay, he went to Kabul [Afghanistan] in 1968 and to America in 1969, for a music tour of one year.


Near about 1971, he again went to Calcutta. He had fully assimilated himself with the cultural and musical environment of Calcutta. Besides the artists of field of music, he had acquaintance with Bangali intellectuals; main among them were Sunil Gangopadhyay [Bangla poet], N. Rashid Khan [Urdu writer], and Sagarmay Ghose [Editor ‘Desh’. Other main friends were Marketing Director of the Tata, Farhad Sayeed Khan, Bobby Sethi [residence-Alipur], Mrs. Anita Gosh, Surender Mohan [industrialist] and Rathin Bhattacharya.


During his stay at Calcutta, Sitar player, Jaya Bose, her husband Sanad Vishvas, violin player V.G. Jog, vocalist Purvi Mukharjee, vocalist Ravi Kichlu etc had constant contact with him. They were so much influenced by Ustad Amir Khan that they prepared a series of articles based on interviews with Ustad Amir Khan, which were published in the Bangla Weekly ‘Desh’.


After living his last days of life in Calcutta, he left his earthly body on 13th February, 1974.

[1] ‘Madhya Pradesh Ke Sangeetagya’-P.19, ‘Khayal Gayak Padmabhushan Amir Khan’, Author: Dr. Pyarelal Shrimal.

[2] ‘Swara Gangechya Tiri’-P.121, ‘Ustad Amir Khan’, Author: G.N. Joshi.