Flute notes in time

Feb 05, 2013, 00:50 IST | Narendra Kusnur

Bansuri Guru is an insightful film about flute legend Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia directed by his son, Rajeev. Disciples, aficionados and fans of the celebrated Indian icon will soak it in

For years, the magic, melody and magnificence of his bansuri have enthralled millions. And though Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is primarily known as a classical flautist, his ventures in experimental fusion and Hindi film music have made him one of the most versatile musicians on the scene.

Stills from Bansuri Guru

Quite naturally, Films Division of India felt a documentary about him would make wonderful viewing. While they were toying with the idea of giving the project to an established director, Chaurasia’s son Rajeev stepped forward and decided to make the film himself. The result is Bansuri Guru, a 60-minute film that captures the life and music of Chaurasia.

Introduced by Amitabh Bachchan, the film contains extensive interviews of Chaurasia, besides footage of santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and tabla maestros Ustad Zakir Hussain and Vijay Ghate.

Bansuri Guru had its first major public screening at the Pune International Film Festival last month. Says Rajeev, an MBA in Finance, who has been involved with television channels: “I personally am not from the music system. However, I sincerely believed I could do justice to this film. In fact, this project has added a new dimension to our father-son relationship.”

Rajeev says he has tried to cover all the important phases of Chaurasia’s career. Thus, the film begins with the flautist’s childhood in Allahabad, when he would secretly learn music without the knowledge of his father, a wrestler.

It goes on to talk about his days at All India Radio in Cuttack, Odisha, his arrival in Mumbai where he balanced classical music with contributions to Hindi film songs, his days with guru Annapurna Devi, his collaborations with Shivkumar Sharma on the album Call of the Valley and in films like Silsila, Chandni, Lamhe and Darr, and his two Vrindaban Gurukuls in Mumbai and Bhubaneswar.

Obviously, the choice of music would play an important part of the film. From such a large repertoire, how did Rajeev shortlist what was used? He replies: “I went with the rhythm of the film. Of course, I made it a point to uses ragas from different parts of the day, and also some light classical pieces and popular film songs.”

One thus gets to hear some marvellous snippets of ragas such as Jog, Ahir Bhairav and Jhinjhoti, besides snatches of the film songs Jo vaada kiya, Phir wohi ahaam, Saawan ka mahina and the Hero theme, and Lata Mangeshkar’s Marathi song, Mogara phulala.

Summing up his effort, Rajeev says he is just a messenger trying to tell the story of a great musician’s life in an accurate manner. Considering that Hariprasad Chaurasia didn’t come from a musical family, and fought various odds to reach his current stature, the film is bound to impress his fans.

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