Seven notes of life

Last Updated 30 October 2010, 12:09 IST

On the ninth day of the festival,  the cultural programme saw two of India’s greatest masters of   classical music, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.

They had come together to perform a jugalbandi recital of santoor and bansuri in Bangalore  after a long gap of more than seven years and seemed very happy to be in the city. Asked if they were of the same age, Hariji chuckled, “Yes! But don’t ask the date!”

Hariji added, “It is the festive time of the year and people are also in a festive mood. I think, it is just the right occasion for us to be here to enjoy ourselves and make the audience also sway to our tunes.” To mark the 150 years since Tagore’s birth, he was keen before the performance to play some timeless Rabindra Sangeet compositions. 

 We asked about which raaga really enthralls him and he said, “I like most of the raagas but I like Bhairavi a lot but I just don’t get to play it at all as it is a morning raaga and concerts happen in the evening.”

Early life|

Hariji started his journey of music at the tender age of nine from the Maihar Gharana in Madhya Pradesh. His mentor and teacher was his Guruma, Annapurna Devi, daughter of late Ustaad Baba Alauddin Khan. The maestro explained how his mentor influenced him, “She didn’t play flute but she used to play the swarbahar (a bass sitar).

I consider that I have broken the tradition by learning one thing and playing another. I used to sing earlier but when I took up the flute, I gave it up.” He reflected nostalgically and said, “Music was like a disease. I used to get mad listening to the swaras or notes and then music became my life, my religion and my love.”

Future and beyond

Hariji was generous enough to acknowledge younger talents in the field of music  and applauded young flute players lavishly. He specifically mentioned a woman flutist of international repute, Stephenie Bosch from Germany. Back home in India, Rajesh from Bangalore was picked by the master as a promising talent with a great future. He also named Debopriya Chatterjee and Suchismita Chatterjee as the established flute players in India.

Not one to stay aloof from changing times and modern musical trends, Hariji has dabbled with improvisation and created fusion albums with young people with titles like Now, Hear, Out of the Blues, Meditative Romance, Nothing but the Wind, but for the regular audience given to classical forms, he continues to play the bansuri  and flow with the sweet tenor of dhrupad, khayaal and thumri.

He has even collaborated with foreign artists like John Mclaughlin, Jan Garbarek, Mickey Hart, Louis Banks, John Handy, Amareesh Leib, Bendik Hofseth, Larry Coryell and many others, some five years back. Presently, he is involved in establishing a school, a Gurukul in order to impart the riches he has acquired as a musician and as a teacher. He wants to create an atmosphere where  the Guru and  Shishya relationship thrives in its purest form.

Hariji said smilingly,“since my name is Hari I have named the Gurukul as Vrindavan.”
Regarding his work in hindi film industry, Hariji seemed to be very satisfied with his work in 10 to 12 movies. He said that, “I had an interest which I wanted to pursue and got a good chance to work with ace musicians, directors, producers and actors in the industry but now I am concentrating more on my Gurukul work”.

Hariji seems content with life and concluded, “I would like to wish and pray that  God gives the gift of music to everyone. Even if they do not become singers and musicians, they can always be good listeners of music. Music is such a gift that whatever is lacking in a person’s life will be filled  by its benevolence.”

(Published 30 October 2010, 12:09 IST)

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