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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.

srinivasan.bhashyam@gmail.com


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 11:25:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-nawab-an-englishman-and-a-maestro/article34513181.ece

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