Pandit Kushal Das is a leading master of both the sitar and surbahar, with a style that builds on Pandit Nikhil Banerjee’s Maihar repertoire. Despite growing up in a family of successful sitarists and sarodias he was never pressured to learn classical music, with his family first letting him play his way through film songs and find his own connection to the instrument.
But Kushal soon realised his calling ("when I suddenly realised where my goal was, I became serious”), and worked tirelessly to capture the nuances of his idols. Like Vilayat Khan he uses a first-hand understanding of vocal music to expand his mellifluous string phrasings, bending patiently around both his instruments in a gharana-blending style. And like Banerjee he garners particular respect from fellow musicians - the late sarod master Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta once remarked that he wished to be born again so he could learn music from Kushal.
"I fell in love with Pandit Nikhil Banerjee’s style of playing and started shadowing him, both literally and figuratively...there was a point when I tried to imitate Nikhil with all my might and I thought it worked for me rather well; but then I was ticked off by well-meaning veterans, who encouraged me to evolve my own musical persona by finding a different vista. Since then I tried to imbibe whatever I could from all the three greats, forming my own melodic syntax."
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