Hariprasad Chaurasia's accession to stardom in Indian classical music has been of a man obsessed. His wide and varied experience started with secret tutelage away from the disapproving eye of a wrestler as father. His earlier Gurus were Pandit Raja Ram who taught him the basics of classical vocal music and Pandit Bhola Nath Prasanna from whom he got his first lessons in classical music on the flute. As composer at AIR Cuttack and Bombay, he was his own Guru. His obsessive hours of riyaaz or practice of classical music combined with a pathbreaking participation in film music orchestration. He brought a new dimension to film music composition, as also individually later in the field of thematic music.
But it was his tutelage under the reclusive, demanding, strict disciplinarian, Annapurna Devi, that marked the future for Hapriprasad Chaurasia as a musician who has revolutionised the flute idiom and given it new classical dimensions. She is the daughter of the famed Baba Ustad Allauddin Khan of the Senia gharana, a musical inheritance that created her brother, Ali Akbar Khan's magical instrumentation on the sarod, and the incomparable exuberance and scholarship of Ravi Shankar on the sitar. Her own expertise with a rare instrument like the surbahaar, with her first and one public performance alone, became the stuff that legends are made of. With a musical lineage like that Hariprasad Chaurasia's technical wizardry has partnered with an exuberant inner romanticism to mould the flute in the image of his favourite God, Krishna.
Recipient of his country's highest honours, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, as he is now known, has won accolades for his performances and interacted with western musicians all over the world. But back in Mumbai he is Guru-in-residence at his school for music, Vrindaban Gurukul, where he likes to teach in the hallowed Indian tradition of the Guru-Shishya Parampara.