Master Musicians : Roshanara Khan

For this week’s #MasterMusicians, we bring to you a legendary musician who was lost in the pages of the illustrious history of an eminent family.

The story begins as a daughter is born in a musical family and has had her training on a string instrument that no woman had ever attempted playing. Her life reached a high point when she reached the zenith of her professional and personal life at once. But suddenly gave up her celebrated career for the bliss of family life.

She went on to mould hundreds of stellar performers and iconic connoisseurs. Alas, her fame and happiness were short lived.  After tragedy struck her personal life, she stopped playing in public and eventually retreated into retirement.

She is, Annapurna Devi. A daughter, A sister, A wife, A mother, A teacher, A musician.

Daughter of the renowned Allauddin Khan, clearly, the multi-instrumentalist Roshanara, took after her father who played over 200 instruments. She spent her childhood under her father’s tutelage learning the Surbahar, the Sitar and mastering many other instruments by the side of her brother Ali Akbar Khan. She married Pandit Ravi Shankar who was a living legend himself. Her son Shubhendra Shankar was also a musician of note.

She taught the next generations of musicians which included Sarod maestro Aashish Khan Debsharma; Biren Banerjee of Howrah also received training from her; renowned flautists Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Nityanand Haldipur; Sitarists Pandit Nikhil Banerjee and Saswatti Saha received training from her, Chandrakant Sardeshmukh, Dr. Hemant Desai, and Professor Rooshikumar Pandya; and Sarodists Pradeep Barot, Amit Bhattacharya and Basant Kabra. The list of other occasional students includes Shyamal Sen (Sarode), Sandhya Apte (Sitar), Leenata Vaze (Sitar), Amit Hiren Roy (Sitar), Stuti Dey (Sarode), Uma Guha (Sarode), Milind Sheorey (Flute), and Kokila Rai, wife of the late Vasant Rai (Surbahar).



Perhaps the monarch of Maihar, the benefactor of the royal musician Allauddin Khan, foresaw that the baby girl born in the Khan clan would be an unending powerhouse of knowledge much like the divine Annapurna Devi who fed every hungry soul that came to her doorstep. 


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