I had the privilege of meeting Ustaad Meeraj a few years ago with my good friend and fellow photographer Dr. Kaushik Ghosh. Unfortunately, Ustaad Meeraj passed away some days ago with nary a mention in the Indian press.
However, Kaushik wrote this eloquent eulogy about this legend. I post it here without any change.
THE LAST QAWAAWL" is no more. The legendary Qawwal USTAAD MEERAJ AHMED NIJAMI, the senior most of Delhi Gharana passed away on 18 October 2015.
Being an artist and an Indian Citizen, I am extremely ashamed and shattered that not a single Indian media came up with this news till date, except an online publication "The Delhi Walla" .
Probably, beef and Chhota Rajan are selling well for them and of national importance. They may come up with headlines "10 things you must know about Chhota Rajan", but not a single line of this person!!! How easily we can ignore our own cultural root, yet becoming euphoric to listen Rahman's rendition of 'Kun Faya Kun'. Probably we are losing our capability to digest the original except the adulteration!!! I met Ustaad Meeraj couple of times.
The first time during my search to make a Multimedia Narrative (MMN) on Nizamuddin Basti (not the Shrine); later ended up to make a MMN on Ustaad Meeraj. It was an accidental meet at the shrine of Hazrat Inayat Khan. And then I spent couple of days with him in his residence. It was almost an endless discussion about life & music as a whole and it was too less time to spend to understand him, his music and his philosophy of life.
The next time, I met him with my mentor of photography, Mr. Tewfic El-Sawy. And at that time, I was touched about his greatness. There was a preparation going on in his family for a marriage ceremony and while talking over phone, one of his son absolutely refused us to meet Ustaad. We both reached at his place and approached him directly. Immediately after recognising me, he welcomed both of us and that's with full of warmth. And despite of having busy and chaotic situation in his one room flat at Basti Nizamuddin, for next an hour or so, he sung some of his favourite songs (including Bhajans of Meera Bai) for Mr. Tewfic.
I understood, for Ustaad nothing is in priority other than his music and that's his life. I really feel blessed to archive his voice, his narrations, a part of our cultural evolution. This Multimedia Narrative is my homage to this ignored and forgotten legend by Indian Media. I thought to meet you during my next visit in Delhi, but probably you were in a hurry.
Rest in Peace, Ustaad!
Written by Kaushik Ghosh.