24 May 2019 08:31 PM



Remembering Pandit Chatur Lal (1926–1965)

‘All my life served a single purpose: sangat, both in art and life’

Tabla maestro Chatur Lal died on October 14, 1965, when he was only 39 years old, but his musical journey continues. On November 16, Amjad Ali Khan will perform in Mumbai in memory of the first ‘tabla wizard’. He will be accompanied by Fateh Singh Gangani on pakhawaj and Prashu Chatur Lal on tabla.

The unticketed concert will be held at the Shanmukhananda Hall in Sion East. It is part of the 13th annual Smritiyaan festival organised by the Pandit Chatur Lal Memorial Society.

Chatur Lal was born in Udaipur on April 16, 1926. According to the Society, while yet a boy he began a vigorous period of long and continuous practice. Chatur Lal’s drum beats, ringing out night after night, eventually became a source of nuisance for the local policeman on night duty.

One day the policeman lost his patience and burst in upon him. ‘You should be in bed by this time. You have no business keeping the locality awake.’ Wary but undaunted, the little boy went on playing the tabla every night, except when it was time for the policeman to pass by their house.

In 1947, when he was only 21, Chatur Lal joined All India Radio and began giving musical performances to ever wider audiences. Soon his magnetic style of playing could be heard across India and the world, and he became an admired and beloved artist in Mexico, the USA, Germany, Australia, and many other countries.

Chatur Lal once remarked that ‘All my life served a single purpose: sangat (union, companionship, felicity), both in art and life’

Upon his death Sharan Rani, known as the queen of the sarod, remembered him thus: ‘The uniqueness of his playing was in the clarity of bols (speech of the instrument), tonal quality, and how he performed with all his passion. He created such a tone from the tabla that it would become merged into the other instrument, so well that two instruments sounded as one. This was his accompaniment.’