Watching Rajeev Chaurasia’s Bansuri Guru, an hour-long documentary on the life and passions of flautist-extraordinaire Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, one is stuck by the sheer simplicity of the man who in many ways, has defined and epitomized the enchanting melody of the flute in our land.
From the beginning of this vivid documentary where the Big B’s voice takes us into a flash journey of the flute’s genesis from its bamboo forests to the poshest most sophisticated auditoriums of the world, we are hooked to the life and music of a man who at an age when ordinary mortals can’t blow cooling in hot tea, is busy blowing passionate tunes into the flute creating sounds which mesmerize enrapture and altogether ensnare the senses into a maze of melodic beauty.
At one point in the narrative a family member says that if Panditji stops playing the flute he stops being. That passion comes across in the film in a way that the son of a great man harnesses without seeming over-adulatory .
Says Rajeev Chaurasia, “Making a film on my father was my own way of showing my love and admiration for my role model. Of course the world knows of his great qualities both as a human being and as a musician. But it was important for the world to get a closer look and feel his divine energy and simplicity of his soul, and a film would provide a good medium. I did not wait for the calling to come to me, but instead grabbed it. I pushed myself from being a passive onlooker to becoming a doer.”
To be able to get the money to fund his dad-driven dream was not easy for Rajeev. “I convinced my producers that I was the most suitable candidate for this job. This movie made me a film maker and became a rich medium for me to demonstrate my affection for this legend in whose lifetime we are born.”
Sanjeev feels it was pre-ordained that he would make a film on his father’s music. “When you are the harbinger of something divine doors open for you, and this is something I have experienced many times in my life. Miracles have happened with my father’s blessings around us. When you see the film, you see what kind of evocative and emotive interviews his friends and well-wishers have given for him. Each one of them has spoken from the heart and said something so inspirational about this man that I would get goose bumps and would keep pinching myself to make sure I was not in some Utopian world.”
The proud son revisited his father’s illustrious past through the people who supported, guided, encouraged and bolstered the legendary flautist’s career from the start.
Most of all, Pandit Chaurasia extended full support to his son’s endeavour.
Recalls Rajeev, “I knew there would be anxiety, exhilaration and turmoil at all times. Trying to get a one-take performing artist of such high caliber to repeat mundane lines, do re-takes, change costumes, follow a regimen was like pushing him beyond reason. But my father did all of this with a smile and was a great sport.”
Rajeev admits Pandit Chaurasia allowed him to make the film because he was the son. “Had it been another director, he would have probably shown him the door. This was the only liberty I was offered of being his son. I met so many people right from his first mentor and employer Mr. P.V. Krishnamoorthy who is in his 90s now, to his associates in Odisha and elsewhere who gave amazing anecdotes about his youth and journey of struggle. I have a treasure-trove of footage now enough for me to make a feature film, and the reason I say this is because his story is very cinematic, very dramatic, as you discover in Bansuri Guru.”
Being so close to Pandit Chaurasia had its benefits for Rajeev. “I have grown up in the same house as him. He has always been my provider and protector as he has been for the rest of the family. When I stayed away from home I always saw the world in awe and adulation of this man and his music. Not as an entertainer but as someone who was revered because of his energy and spirit and of course his divine and spiritual music. I have benefited greatly from this rich environment which I am sure has held me in good stead in my life.”
However, Rajeev doesn’t play the flute. “I was also an outsider to his world. I did not choose his vocation. In fact my parents always encouraged me to find my own calling outside the shade of the banyan tree and I am eternally grateful to them today. They gave me a life of freedom where I have only myself to measure up to. I also realised early that what he does with the bamboo flute is no short of a miracle, and getting anywhere close to him would take me many lives, not one.”
The majestic ode to the flautist opens through PVR on April 12. Rajeev has done what He could and left the fate of the film to God. “I have done my work with sincerity and dedication. The world has become very complex and to reach 1 billion people requires money muscle and power. Thanks to Films Division and Tata Consultancy Services who took this leap of faith with me we are doing something unconventional by giving this documentary a normal theatrical release. They believed that this film had a mass appeal and needed to be shared with the world. The film is about the Triumph of the Human Spirit and I hope that people from all walks of life, culture, social strata will make their own inferences from this cinematic journey about life, music and passion.”