Open Page

A Nawab, an Englishman and a maestro

The Nawab of Pataudi. It was one of India's greatest triumphs...with a most remarkable man leading the way... (Published in The Sportstar on October 19, 1985) PHOTO: THE HINDU ARCHIVES  

It was January 1973. India was playing England in a Test series. Ajit Wadekar was leading India, while Tony Lewis was the English captain. The Nawab of Pataudi had been inducted into the team after a fine show in a tour match. The two teams had wound their way to Chennai (then Madras) for the third Test. The series was tied one-all. And the match at Chepauk was crucial.

But this story is not about cricket and the unflappable Pataudi’s exploits with the bat or of Wadekar’s marshalling of his troops on a turning Chepauk pitch. In those days, Test cricket was played over six days with a rest day after three days. I was a student of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The institute had a music club (still does), and a violin concert by Lalgudi Jayaraman had been organised for Sunday evening.

The ace violinist had just begun his concert and essayed the varnam, when suddenly there was a minor commotion at the entrance. In walked Pataudi with Tony Lewis (Monday was a rest day). They proceeded to the front row, where two seats had been hastily vacated for them, and sat in rapt attention while Lalgudi, after a courteous bow to acknowledge their presence, proceeded with his concert. We later learned that Tony Lewis was a part-time musician and violinist, and Pataudi wanted to expose him to how India had adapted this instrument for its classical music.

Even in those pre-WhatsApp days, word of the great man’s presence in the Central Lecture Theatre spread like wildfire on the campus and the hall which had till then only a sprinkling of listeners, fast filled up and was soon overflowing. Concert over, Pataudi and Tony Lewis exchanged a few pleasantries with the maestro and left.

I dare say that Pataudi had unwittingly acted as a catalyst to convert quite a few of the Pop, Rock, Blues and Jazz aficionados among the young IITians to serious listeners of Indian classical music.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 11:25:56 PM |

Next Story