Pandit Rupak Kulkarni is one of today’s finest bansuri exponents, with a style rooted in the Maihar gharana. He is the leading student of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, having been accepted as the great master’s disciple after rigorous early training with his father Pandit Malhar Rao Kulkarni - he started learning tabla at the age of two, and took up the bamboo flute soon after. He describes his time with Hariprasad with fondness: “No matter how much he is tired and fatigued, he loves teaching. He just loves holding the flute 24hrs. He never scolded me for anything and always encouraged youngsters”.
Rupak has since sought to expand his guru’s pioneering approach, notably through looking to the work of surbahar legend Maa Annapurna Devi and through studying the layakari (rhythmic interplay) of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. He has created new ragas - including Rang Malhar and Sonakshi - and even new flutes to aid in his quest, including the huge bass-toned adbhut bansuri (flute of wonder).
He enjoys teaching (“It's food for my brain, so that I can improve myself - today's young generation is very curious”), and advises up-and-coming artists to keep their minds open to outside influences (“be well versed in Indian and Western classical”), and takes a deep interest in the therapeutic use of Indian music. In his words, “musical satisfaction is about becoming one with Sa [Indian music's ever-present root note]”.
"The bansuri is just a simple piece of bamboo. But it brings many benefits, not only for your ears but for your entire body and soul. Pranayama [breathing meditation] happens automatically, so to play is to soothe the mind."
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