A conversation with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia


Khalid Bin Siraj

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is a legendary flute maestro of eastern classical music and one of the greatest musicians alive. His excellent expression of flute has touched the heart of million listeners all over the world. He is  not just awarded with Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan but also French knighthood. His music has taken him to a journey where he did not leave many hit songs in Bollywood but also he has worked with many legendary artists like the Beatles. Till now he is playing flute to please us and never fails to amaze the listeners all around the world. From 2012 he plays in Bengal classical music festival every year as the show stopper. Every year thousands of music lover wait all night to hear him play.

Khalid Bin Siraj took an exclusive interview of bansuri flute master Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia on behalf of Art & Life.

You have been playing flutes for more than six decades; have you ever felt like you have nothing left to learn?

Learning is a never ending process for me. I am still learning. Even today I feel like a student and I have never stopped learning. Even now if I could, I would go to my Guruma and learn from her. 

Did you ever imagine that you would become such a great maestro?

Up till now I don’t believe I am a great musician. Yes, people have always appreciated me but I always tell myself that I have just started 24 hours ago.

What has inspired you most to gain today’s position?

The youths and the listeners who have always loved me and appreciated me inspire me the most. I would like to thank my teachers who have always inspired me to play and till now their inspiration is there.

You are the teacher of hundreds of students who must get nervous while playing in front you. Have you ever felt nervous when you were playing in front of your Guruma?

I still feel nervous when I play in the presence of my Guruma. She is a perfectionist when it comes to music.

We all know your Guruma Annapurna Shanker is the daughter of great Ustad Alauddin Khan who was from Bangladesh. Have you ever met Ustad Alauddin Khan?

Yes, I met him once after a show. I was very young. I went to him and told him that I play flute. He told me to play something for him. Back at that time I used to play music of films and learned little bit of raag Yaman, so I played raag Yaman and he liked it and told me “Someday you should go to my daughter and learn from her”. Then he played violin. It was remarkable and till now I did not forget.

Have you ever felt tired of music or have you ever felt like taking a break?

No, never. Because like I have said earlier, I feel that I have just started playing today so I have a long way to go. Hence, I still play music with joyfulness and I never felt tired of it.

Share your experience of playing with foreign artists  

I have played with many great musicians like John Mclaughlin, and Jethro Tull and even with ‘The Beatles’ in a song called The Inner Light. It was written by George Harrison. George was a good friend of mine and I remember he invited me to his place once. 

Tell us something about the Bengal classical music festival that you perform every year?

I have performed all over the world but I have never performed in a show like that. I have never seen such a big crowd who come here to enjoy music every year and stay from evening till the morning listening to music. I have never seen such arrangements like Bengal classical music festival in Dhaka. 

Is there any message for upcoming musicians?

I just want to say that everyone should listen to music and have knowledge about music. A person is not complete when he or she lacks music in their life. In one of my performance at Bengal classical music festival I said ever those who want to play flute should carry a flute.

‘Music is my love. And because it is my love, music has become my religion’ — Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia