As a child, choosing to begin early, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia chose flute over wrestling. That was a risk, he believes is commonplace with today’s generation willing to take such risks. “I come from a family of wrestlers in Allahabad. They fought in the akhadas, I played music. I have been playing since the age of nine. Now, I see many more interested to take risks like that,” says Chaurasia. The 77-year-old adds, “Our younger generation is very good, hardworking and dedicated. Youth play really well. They have passion and love towards songs, music and instruments, which is inspiring.”
Chaurasia says that the country’s youth is willing to experiment and dabble with different talents at the same time. “The youth also writes well. They are full of energy and love. I really like that experimenting trait in them. There were no such multi-talented people at my time,” he reminisces. “My only message for them would be to pursue it as a passion than profession,” adds Chaurasia, who is a recipient of Sangeet Natak Academy Award. Unlike popular perception that flautists are only males, Chaurasia emphasises that there are many young women who are playing the flute. “There was an era where girls were not allowed to play, sing and dance. But now they are doing wonders. There are many beautiful woman flautists around. There are at least 10-12 in India today. That is a very good thing,” the artiste, who teaches in Holland at the World Music Department at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory, tells Metrolife.
Chaurasia, who is credited for popularising the instrument across the world over several decades, says he is still learning. “I have had more than 60 years of learning. But I still think of myself as a student and want to continue learning,” he says.