Google on Tuesday honoured Pandit Lacchu Maharaj on his 74th birthday by dedicating a doodle to the musician. Born on October 16, 1944, as Laxmi Narayan Singh, the tabla maestro worked in many Bollywood films and performed across the world. Brought up in Varanasi, Lachhu Maharaj started performing at the age of eight and trained under his father Vasudev Maharaj.
While performing in Mumbai, Maharaj’s performance caught the attention of Ahmad Jaan Thirakwa, the man whose name was synonymous with the tabla. Thirakwa was greatly impressed by the young tabla player and is known to have said “Kaash Lachhu mera beta hota (I wish Lachhu was my son)”.
Lachhu Maharaj had played alongside several great tabla players of his times but it was his solo performances which are most remembered. Girija Devi, with whom he often collaborated, had said that Maharaj would play continuously for hours leaving his audience awestruck.
Not many know that actor Govinda was related to him, and learnt music from Maharaj during his childhood.
During Emergency, Maharaj played the tabla inside prison as a mark of protest and refused to accept any award bestowed on him including the Padma Shri and other state awards. “Applause from the audience is any artiste’s prize. He/she does not need anything else,” he would often say. In 1957, he was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, the highest award for performing artists.
Lachhu Maharaj passed away in July 2016 in Varanasi at the age of 72 after suffering a heart attack. He is survived by his wife and daughter, both of whom now live in Switzerland.
Tuesday’s Google Doodle was created by guest artist Sajid Shaikh.