“Anyone can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad.”
This Father’s Day, StageCulture talks about some of India’s finest Father-child talented geniuses.
SD Burman – RD Burman
Sachin Dev Burman began his career in the 1920’s singing and composing music for Bengali and later Hindi films. Songs, full of life, yet soothing, strongly influenced by Bengali folk. His son Rahul Dev, fondly known as Pancham debuted as a composer with the 1961 Hindi movie Chhote Nawab. A maverick, and genius who could make music out of anything, from a bunch of keys to physically playing a beat on the back of a shirtless and bewildered session percussionist. Their music was as different as chalk and cheese and yet SD was an immensely proud father who once said- “Defeat from a son in excellence is the greatest victory ever. There is no greater victory than that in the history of the world.”
Alla Rakha – Zakir Hussain
In a 1988 interview with India Today, Alla Rakha says of his son Zakir “I knew he’d play the tabla even before he was born.”
“You couldn’t ask for a more loving guru,” reminisces Zakir. The special relationship between father and son was palpable…always. Mesmerizing audiences the world over. Matching beat for beat, taal for taal, curl for curl, eyebrow for eyebrow, father and son dueled and teased. Today in addition to his father’s won titles namely the Padma Shri & the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Zakir has gone on to win the Kalidas Samman, the Padma Bhushan, and multiple Grammys, walking tall in his father’s difficult to fill footsteps. The musical DNA runs strong in Allah Rakha’s other boys, Fazal and Taufique Qureshi too.
Ravi Shankar -Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones
Legendary Sitar maestro, Raviji began teaching Anoushka to play the sitar when she was just a child, on a miniature instrument he had specially made for her. Their relationship went far beyond that of father-daughter to become more of guru and shishya. They performed together regularly.
“My father was very unusual” says Anoushka. “Pro-women and all for independence.”
No wonder then that she pushes boundaries, and experiments much as her father did. In fact both his girls, are more than just a great man’s daughters. Norah Jones is a lounge-jazz star, Anoushka an accomplished sitarist, both icons of the contemporary music world, with multiple albums and innumerable awards to their credit.
Raja Reddy – Yamini and Bhavana
“We’re the only family completely dedicated to dance. People from traditional gharanas don’t encourage their daughters, but we have taught our daughters dance,” says Raja Reddy, patriarch of the first family of Kuchipudi. His first wife Radha, his second wife Kaushalya, and their daughters Yamini and Bhavana, are all acclaimed and accomplished Kuchipudi dancers. Carrying the legacy forward Yamini is a recipient of the Yuva Ratna Award, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar. Bhavana has gone a step ahead, and released a music album of her own.
Kelucharan Mohapatra -Ratikant Mohapatra
Legends are born in shrouded silence. They work silently for years, and it’s only their performances which make all the sound. Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra is one such genius, who spent his childhood deeply influenced by the jatra culture of Orissa. Having dedicated his life to Odissi till his very last breath, the stamp of his influence can be seen in his son Ratikant who began dancing in his early teens, and choreographing ballets soon after.
“My father was a giant shade-giving tree which protected as it nurtured, I derive inspiration from long years of observing him choreograph new pieces and tirelessly work them until the last little detail is perfected” reminisces Ratikant.
Burjor Patel – Shernaz Patel
“My father is extremely energetic at this Young age…and for him “Life began at 80!” says Shernaz of her father Burjor Patel. Acting since college, when only in his 20s, Burjor is a pioneer and visionary of the Parsi-Gujarati and English stage. Having acted in and produced plays that ran to packed houses, making people laugh and cry, and most importantly, entertaining them all came naturally to Burjor. Shernaz imbibed this zeal for theatre in her childhood, especially from her father and despite having achieved milestones of her own she is still quite in awe of him and his achievements.
Ebrahim Alkazi – Feisal Alkazi & Amal Allana
Many illustrious actors credit their education in theatre to the man whose name is synonymous with the history of Indian theatre – Ebrahim Alkazi. That he is the son of such a man, weighs lightly on Feisal Alkazi’s shoulders.
“Though I chose to follow in my father’s footsteps I’ve never strived to come out of his shadow to make my name separately,” says Feisal acknowledging the greatness of his father Ebrahim Alkazi. This when he himself is a man who wears many hats; theatre and television director, an educationist, counselor, trainer and costume designer. In 2016 Amal Allana, his sister, and former chairperson of NSD, conceptualized an expansive retrospective titled The Theatre of E.Alkazi – A Modernist Approach to Indian Theatre in Delhi- a homage to her father that took nearly 20 years to complete.
Akash Khurana – Akarsh & Adhaar Khurana
Akash Khurana is one of the quiet pillars of the Indian theatre fraternity. His sons Akarsh & Adhaar aren’t to let the torch dim soon. Together they are AKvarious – one of the most prolific theatre companies today. “The family’s initiation into theatre happened subliminally. It was never intended, or insisted on,” says Akash. And yet they make the perfect partners in crime.