I had to brave hurdles: Sharan Rani | india | Hindustan Times
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I had to brave hurdles: Sharan Rani

SHE HAS refined musical innovation. She opened the doors of Hindustani classical music for women. Legendary sarod maestro Pandita Sharan Rani is not just the first woman sarod player, she is the first woman instrumentalist in India.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2006 18:37 IST

SHE HAS refined musical innovation. She opened the doors of Hindustani classical music for women. Legendary sarod maestro Pandita Sharan Rani is not just the first woman sarod player, she is the first woman instrumentalist in India.

Sarod became synonymous with her name and she started being addressed as ‘Sarod Rani’. Sharan Rani belongs to the Maihar-Senia gharana of music and is a disciple of great saint-musician ‘Baba’ Ustad Alauddin Khan and sarod wizard Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

Seventy-eight-year-old Pandita Sharan Rani was in Bhopal to take part in ‘Prathama’, a presentation of such women percussionists who were the first women artistes to play their respective instruments.

The youngest amongst her ten siblings, Sharan Rani comes from a non-musical family. “In my days, no one could think of taking up music as a profession.

One day, as a small child, I just happened to touch the strings of a sarod. The music that emanated filled me with immense internal happiness. I then decided that this was the instrument I had to learn.”

Conceding that she had to weather several social pinpricks, she said, “I was determined to brave all the hurdles that came my way. I went to Baba and the first thing he asked me was why I wanted to learn sarod. I told him that one should marry the person whom you loved.”

How did she define male dominance in the field of culture? “In the sphere of dancing and vocal music we still find women entering in large numbers. But instrumental music is a male-dominated terrain. Very few women take it up, which is really very unfortunate.”

“Sarod is a very difficult instrument to play. Besides being heavy, it is played while pressing the stomach. For pregnant ladies the position of the instrument has to be changed or it can cause a miscarriage”, she added.

“The Guru-Shishya Parampara has become very professional today. Today, everybody is running after money. In my time, things were very different.”

And how much riyaz does she do at present? “The doctors have advised me that playing too much sarod would be detrimental for my heart. But, I think, my heart would fail if I don’t do my daily riyaz on sarod.”

First Published: Dec 10, 2006 18:37 IST