Rasoolan Bai

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Rasoolan Bai
Rasoolan Bai (1902-1974).jpg
Background information
Born 1902 (1902)
Kachhwa Bazar, Mirzapur,
Uttar Pradesh, India
Died 15 December 1974 (1974-12-16) (aged 72)
Genres Thumri, Hindustani classical music
Occupation(s) Vocalist

Rasoolan Bai (1902 – 15 December 1974) was a leading Indian Hindustani classical music vocal musician. Belonging to the Benaras gharana, she specialized in the romantic Purab Ang of the Thumri musical genre and tappa.

Early life and training[edit]

Rasoolan Bai was born in 1902 at Kachhwa Baazar, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, in a poor family, though she inherited the musical legacy of her mother Adalat, and displayed her grasp over classical Ragas as an early age. Recognising this at the age of five, she was sent to learn music from Ustad Shammu Khan,[1] and later from sarangiyas (sarangi players) Ashiq Khan and Ustad Najju Khan.[2][3]


Rasoolanbai became an expert in Tappa singing as well as Purab Ang, Thumri, besides dadra, poorbi geet, hori, kajri and chaiti.[2] Her first performance was held in Dhananjaygarh court, after its success she started getting invitations from local Rajas of the time, thus she went on to dominated the Hindustani classical music genre for next five decades, based in Varanasi and became the doyenne of Benaras gharana. In 1948, she stopped performing mujra and moved out of her kotha, started living in a bylane of Varanasi (Banaras) and married a local Banarasi sari dealer.[4]

A contemporary of Siddheswari Devi (1908–1976) also from the same gharana, besides, concerts and mehfils, she often sang on Lucknow and Allahabad stations of All India Radio[2] and Doordarshan till 1972, and her last public singing was held in Kashmir.[citation needed]

She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Hindustani music Vocal in 1957 by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Theatre. Despite an illustrious musical career, she died in penury, running a small tea shop next to the radio station where she had often broadcast from.[5] She has also taught noted classical singer Nainna Devi.[6]

Her house was burnt during 1969 communal riots in the city.[7] She died on 15 December 1974, at the age of 72.[8] Rasoolan Bai and the tawaif or courtesan tradition of women musicians was featured in the film The Other Song (2009) by Saba Dewan, also featuring her more famous song, Lagat karejwa ma chot, phool gendwa na maar, a 1935 Gramophone recording[9][10]



  1. ^ Susheela Misra (1991). Musical Heritage of Lucknow. Harman Publishing House. p. 44. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Projesh Banerji (1 January 1986). Dance In Thumri. Abhinav Publications. pp. 74–. ISBN 978-81-7017-212-3. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Peter Lamarche Manuel (1989). Ṭhumri: In Historical and Stylistic Perspectives. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 87–. ISBN 978-81-208-0673-3. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Bring On The Dancing Girls". Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 44. 7 November 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  5. ^ http://indianraga.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html
  6. ^ "Glimpses of Naina". The Hindu. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Saeed Naqvi (23 January 2004). "The power of Gujarat's godmen". Indian Express. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Gopa Sabharwal (1 January 2007). India Since 1947: The Independent Years. Penguin Books India. pp. 154–. ISBN 978-0-14-310274-8. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  9. ^ Film screening The Hindu, 28 August 2009.
  10. ^ http://infochangeindia.org/200904177694/Film-Forum/Documentary/The-politics-of-popular-culture.html
  11. ^ Sangeet Natak Akademi Award - Music:Vocal Sangeet Natak Akademi Award Official listings.

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