indian cinema heritage foundation

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

Music Director
  • Born: 1 July, 1938 (Allahabad)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Spouse: Kamala Devi

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is an internationally acclaimed flautist and music director for films. An artiste par excellence who is known for his outstanding contribution in popularising Indian classical music across the world, he is acknowledged as the greatest living master of the North Indian Bamboo Flute. Besides classical music, Pandit Chaurasia has collaborated with santoor expert Shivkumar Sharma, to compose music for films. Known by the name Shiv-Hari, the duo has scored music for popular films such as Silsila (1981), Faasle (1985), Vijay (1988), Chandni (1989), Lamhe (1991), Parampara (1993), Sahibaan (1993), and Darr (1993). The music of Silsila, Chandni, and Darr was also adjudged winners of the Filmfare awards. Pandit Chaurasia has also collaborated with Bhubaneswar Mishra, to compose popular songs for Odia films such as Samaya (1974) and Gapa Helebi Sata (1976), under the name Bhuban-Hari. Some of the awards Pandit Chaurasia has been honoured with include the Sangeet Natak Academy, Padma Bhushan, and the Padma Vibhushan. 
He was born 1 July, 1938 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, he did not hail from a musically-inclined family. In fact, his father desired that he become a professional wrestler, and though the young Hariprasad did go to the akhada or wrestling school from time to time, he pursued learning and practising music at his friend’s house. He would later admit that some of the strength and stamina he had built up in the wrestling ring had helped him play the bansuri well into his advanced age. 
He had begun his pursuit of music at the age of 15, learning classical vocal technique from Pandit Rajaram. Within a year, he switched to flute playing, after hearing Pandit Bholanath, a noted flautist from Varanasi. He went on to be tutored by Pandit Bholanath for eight years. In 1957, when he was barely out of his teens, he became a regular staff artiste of All India Radio, Cuttack in Orissa. Here he worked as performer as well as a composer. 
After he was transferred by AIR (All India Radio) Cuttack to Bombay in 1960, he was further trained by surbahar player Shrimati Annapurna Devi, daughter of late Ustad Allaudin Khan and sister of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. His music acquired a new dimension under her guidance, and he thereafter left AIR to pursue his solo career as a performer. 
Performing nationally and internationally, he carved a highly successful career, winning acclaim from varied audiences and fellow musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin, Jean-Pierre Rampal, among others. Touring regularly in the US and Europe, he became a featured artiste at major music festivals across the globe.
A rare combination of an innovator and a traditionalist, Pandit Chaurasia has expanded the expressive possibilities of classical North Indian flute-playing through his masterful blowing technique and his unique adaptations. His horizons extend beyond North Indian Classical music to Indian folk and popular music and to western music as well.
Besides classical music, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia collaborated with Shivkumar Sharma, to form a group called Shiv-Hari. As early as 1967, Shiv-Hari recorded the album titled Call of the Valley. Collaborating with guitarist Brij Bhushan Kabra and owing to the unusual way in which this Indian classical music album was organised, the result was a fresh and edgy form of music. The innovative use of the guitar on the album made it popular among people from Western countries, marking it as one of the most successful albums of Indian classical music recorded.
Together, the Shiv-Hari duo composed highly popular songs for many hit films, including Silsila and Chandni, and created some highly popular songs. Among these are Yeh kahan aa gaye hum, Jaadu teri nazar, Kabhi main kahoon, Lagi aaj saawan ki, Tu mere saamne, Neela aasman so gaya, Chandni o meri Chandni, Rang barse bheege chunarwali, Mere haathon mein nau nau chooriyan hain, Tere mere honthon pe, Churiyan khanak gayeen, and Meri bindiyan, among others. Pandit Chaurasia also collaborated with Bhubaneswar Mishra, forming the pair Bhuban-Hari, composing music for many Odia films, creating popular songs such as Muje janena kaha baata rendered by Suman Kalyanpur from the film Gapa Helebi Sata (1976), all the songs from Maa O Mamata (1980), and more. Some of Pandit Chaurasia’s his music was also used in Mithaq Kazimi's documentary 16 Days in Afghanistan (2007).
Pandit Chaurasia has collaborated with well-known western musicians such as John McLaughlin, Jan Garbarek, and Ken Lauber. He also played on The Beatles' 1968 B-side The Inner Light, which was written by George Harrison. His collaborated again with George Harrison on the Beatle’s first solo release, Wonderwall, and with Harrison, Ravi Shankar and others on the Dark Horse Records release Shankar Family & Friends.
Founder of the Vrindavan Gurukul in Mumbai and Vrindavan Gurukul in Bhubaneshwar which train students in bansuri in the Guru-shishya tradition, Pandit Chaurasia is also the artistic director of the World Music Department at the Rotterdam Music Conservatory in the Netherlands.  
Among the many national and international awards he has received are the Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship award, Ordres des Arts et Lettres, France, Officier in de Orde van Oranje, Nassau, Netherlands, Konark Samman, Padma Bhushan, Yash Bharati Samman, Padma Vibhushan, Pandit Chatur Lal Excellence Award, Hafiz Ali Khan Award, Dinanath Mangeshkar Award, and more. Several books have been penned on him including his Official Biography 'Breath of Gold' by Sathya Saran, 'Hariprasad Chaurasia: Romance of the Bamboo Reed', by Uma Vasudev, Official biography ‘Woodwinds of Change’ by Surjit Singh, ‘Hariprasad Chaurasia and the Art of Improvisation', by Henri Tournier, and 'Bansuri Samrat: Hariprasad Chaurasia', by Surjit Singh. In 2013 a documentary film Bansuri Guru featuring the life and legacy of Chaurasia was directed by his son Rajeev Chaurasia and produced by the Films Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. 
Married to Kamala Devi and Anuradha Roy, he has three sons Vinay, Ajay and Rajeev. His nephew Rakesh Chaurasia is also a flautist. 


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