A dear member of Madhukali family, a stalwart like others, a living legend and a conscious musician, a loving giving soul and responsible academic , Pt. Chhotelal Misra – disciple and son of Pt. Anokhelal Misra – died of cardiac arrest at his Kushtmanda residence in Varanasi today at 11:30 am.
Grieving on the loss of a dear friend since their adolescence, founder director of Madhukali, Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya said that Pt. Chhotelal Misra represented the spirit of Varanasi music tradition – innovative in thought, calm in tradition and soft in presentation.
Dr. Ragini Trivedi recalled that both she and brother Gopal Shankar began their first lessons in Sitar with Chhotelal ji accompanying them. It was due playing with him, from the very beginning that she developed such strong sense and mastery over rhythm. She remembers that the day debut function of her elder brother Gopal Shankar was organized, her mother applied tika to both Gopal Shankar and Chhotelal Misra before they proceeded to performance stage. In the BHU inter-faculty competition in year 1976 when she came on stage, the whooping and clapping of students in the over-packed hall was overwhelming. In the noise, she could not hear her own Sitar. It was Chhotelal ji who calmed her with a brief remark –“Sitar dekhaa, aur kucch na dekhaa! (Pay attention to Sitar, nothing else)” It was during her visit to Varanasi when she presented jal tarang at Ganga Mahotsav that Chhotelal ji advised her – “Veena bajawa, Veena!”. It was this that moved her to take her father’s Vichitra Veena with her.
Dr. Naval Krishna said that he was the favorite of Mrs. Rajam and during beginning of her career, she relied only on Chhotelal ji. His rfelexes were wonderful and provided great support to her in ‘Ladant’. He was always smiling and would greet friends with “Ka Guru!” managing the phrase out through a pan-filled mouth.
A cheerful witty person who would laugh over hurt and pain will be remembered for keeping alive the non-pareil style of Pt. Anokhelal Misra. His disciple Pt. Premshankar Misra who took notes for the two books Chhotelal ji wrote, shall now have the task of bringing out English versions all by himself.
Pt. Chhotelal Misra on Dr. Gopal Shankar and his father Dr. Lalmani Misra
In the condolence meeting organized at Madhukali premises, Bhopal, Founder Director Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya paid tribute to Madhukali patron Bharat Ratna, Pandit Ravishankar, whose loss is deeply mourned by classical music community. Pt. Chourasiya said, “Pandit Ravishankar ji would invariably meet with Guruji (Dr. Lalmani Misra) whenever he visited Varanasi. As disciples, we would maintain our distance, but still could learn a bit of plans about promotion and education of Indian music, the two would discuss. Pandit ji always loved us as his own.” Still later, he would call Pt. Chourasiya to ask after the affairs of Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy. Once when during some bureaucratic restructuring, it was proposed to rename the music academy, Pt. Chourasiya sought advice of Pandit Ravishankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and other musicians. Ravishankar ji wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Bajpeyi requesting not to take away the name of Baba from the only academy to be named after a musician. Thus, music academy in Madhya Pradesh still continues to be known as Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy.
Dr. Ragini Trivedi considered his deep classicism as the bond between Pt. Ravishankar and her father. She fears that with Pandit ji’s passing away, Indian Classical Music may suffer setback in area of performance similar to that, it has undergone in area of academics after demise of her father, Dr. Lalmani Misra, Acharya Brahaspati and Thakur Jaidev Singh. It would be hard to find an artiste of similar stature who is committed to classical knowledge and enjoys global acclaim. She almost broke down, recalling how Ravishankar ji assured his friend and colleague that he would look after the children. He would send for them whenever he was in town, inquire about their progress, eagerly examining their fingers for string marks. Pandit ji flew to India on a short notice to bless the couple when Ragini was married in 1985. Dr. Kiran Deshpande recalled various interactions with Pandit ji – how he would put younger artistes at ease motivate them by example. Pt. Ramswaroop Ratonia tried to express his grief; he said, that Pandit ji’s presence is felt through his creativity in daily routine of Akashvani. Dr. Sudha Dixit marvelled at Panditji’s depth of understanding which gave him the ability to successfully use Karnatic Raga-s along with Hindustani equivalent.
Several members located across the country called to express their sorrow. Smita Tanshikar of Ahmednagar who learnt Misrabani had also come in contact with Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh the sole common disciple of Pt. Ravishankar and Annapurna ji. She helped maintain interaction between musicians in different locations. Young Santoor player Satyendra Solanki looked after the hurriedly called meeting at ‘Asthaa’, the Madhukali headquarter.
The year 2012 has taken its toll on Indian music. A complete generation of stalwarts bid adieu this year, leaving music colder stroke by stroke. With Ravishankar – a synonym for Sitar, Classicism and innovative orchestration – an era of tradition, experimentation and creation that always cherished melody and aesthetics, draws to a close.