Interview: Pt. RUPAK KULKARNI - Noted North Indian Hindustani Classical Instrumental Flute (Bansuri) Player
Video: A Tête-à-tête with the master flautist Pt. Rupak Kulkarni
Calcutta, Feb 19, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Meeting Pt. Rupak Kulkarni turned out to be an enlightening experience. Within a very short span of time, the flautist unfolded stories of his life, much like the soulful melodies emanating from his flute. Born into a family of musical traditions, Pt. Kulkarni recollects his earliest introductions to music by his father, late Pt. Malhar Rao Kulkarni, who held tabla classes at home for more than 200 learners. Soon enough, he began taking rigorous tabla lessons from his father, undergoing sessions that began at the crack of dawn and continued till late in the evening. The austere discipline soon bore fruits, as he first performed publicly at an unripe age of 18 months. From then onwards, his musical sojourn has taken a natural progression towards excellence.
MP3 Download: Pt Rupak Kulkarni (Indian Classical Instrumental Flute / Bansuri)
Learning from his father about the importance to seek for the right master to learn music, Pt. Rupak Kulkarni openly confessed of being fortunate to have a legend for a master. At the age of 9, he became a devoted disciple to the legendary flautist Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, taking arduous lessons from him. The bond between the master and disciple deepened over the years and he remains indebted to his master till today. Letting out an early anecdote between the two, Pt. Kulkarni mentions the difficult experience of having to master the raag Bhairavi for 5 long years, simply to prove to his master that he had the patience necessary to pursue music. In his guru, he found the perfect blend of a tutor and performer, a quality that is rarely found in most virtuosos. Graduating with economics and political science, Pt. Kulkarni, who belongs to the Maihar Gharana, continued to keep music as his central focus. However, he maintains that biggest challenge facing him was to demystify the overwhelming influence of his Guru and create a distinctive style of his own. This is why he began to develop several innovative styles, such as playing in the staccato style at double speed and mastering breath control with dexterous finger work.
Speaking of the reception of Indian classical music in the west, Pt. Kulkarni greatly acknowledges the major contributions of earlier master flautists such as Pt. Pannalal Ghosh and Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, who have continued to inspire him throughout his musical journey. He openly admits the vast contributions made by the earlier masters to create an awareness of Indian classical music across the borders. However, he also believes that there should be more opportunities for classical music performances in India. Speaking on behalf of the youth, he blames the poor education system of the country in becoming a major inhibition for students who seriously wish to pursue a vocation in classical music. Voicing his opinions on the current trends of music production, he says that he no longer enjoys performing scores for films because of the heavy reliance on electronic instruments and the uncoordinated demands of the music producers. His concerns felt genuine as he has full faith in the youth of tomorrow, training some pursuers under his own wings and inculcating the virtues of undivided faith and lasting patience.
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