Late Ust. Vilayat Khan Sahib
The association of Rikhi Ram family with late Ustad ji is of 3 generations. Ustad ji always treated Bishan Dass ji as his younger brother. To make his sitar in a standardized form He and Bishan Dass ji spent days and years together discussing all the possibilities to accomplish the correct Design, Sound and Tone of his gharana. It is no doubt that Vilayat Khan style sitar is most widely played around the world. Ustad ji explained the detailed nuances of sound and tone that he required to Bishan Dassji who then master crafted many of his style sitars. Khan sahib always appreciated Bishanjis experiments with different type of materials for the jawaris.
Ustadji’s both sons Shujaat Khan and Hidayat Khan, ustadji’s brother Ustad Imrat Khan & his son Nishat Khan play sitars made by Bishan Dass of Rikhi Ram. Apart from his family the other top names who play sitars made by Bishan Dass ji are Budhatitya Mukherjee, Shahid Pervez and many more. They are regular visitors to the shop.
Once while travelling to US in the year 1998, Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma was again fortunate to meet & stay with Ustad ji at his house in NY. Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma worked on his sitars & other instruments & also on the student’s sitars. He was fortunate to get lots of blessings from the maestro & gathered lots of knowledge about sound & classical music from him. This was a memorable trip that Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma will remember all his life.
Ust Shujaat khan, who is carrying forward the lineage, is also very closely associated with Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma. The present sitars played by Shujaat ji is made by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma.
Late Ust Ali Akbar Khan Sahib
Pt. Ravi Shankar ji introduced his student Bishan Dass to Ustad Ali Akbar sahib way back in 1952. For Ustadji, Bishan Dass made accompaniment tambooris for his sarod and many times restored his sarod. In 1970 when Bishan ji toured United States he was invited by Ustadji to his college in San Rafael California, where he restored Ustadji’s and his student’s instruments. With Ustadji’s blessing & guidance he learnt many things about music, sound & tone of different instruments. Currently the Ali Akbar college store which has been named Musician’s Mall carries Sitars made by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma.
Late Ust Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
The pioneer of Patiala Gharana Late Ustad ji was a regular instrument seeker in the Rikhi Ram shop in Lahore. Ustadji’s requirement of a Harmonium, Swarmandal and Tanpura was only fulfilled by Late Pt. Rikhi Ram and son Bishan Dass. In 1962 Ustad ji asked Bishan Dassji to make a special Swarmandal for him. After a few weeks Bishan Dass ji presented a beautifully crafted Swarmandal of 36 strings which could be tuned with the help of individual beads attached to the individual strings, which was highly appreciated and till his last years Ustadji played the same Swarmandal in his immortal music.
Late Ust Alla Rakha Ji
In 1964 Bishan Dass ji experimented to electronify the sitar and made a sitar with in-built ampli-speaker operated through batteries which were also in-built. He then presented this unique sitar to his Guru Pt. Ravi Shankar where he was introduced to Ustad Alla Rakha ji, both Pt.ji and Ustad ji were amazed to see and hear the sound of this sitar. Ustad Alla Rakhaji gave his kind blessings and regards in this context. When Bishan Dass ji of Rikhi Ram toured USA in 1970 he stayed in Ustad ji’s house in LA and met his young talented son Ustad Zakir Hussain, who is currently the icon of Tabla
Ust. Amjad Ali Khan
The association dates back from Ustadji’s respected father Late Ustad Hafis Ali Khan. Late Ustad Hafis Ali Khan Sahib was a regular visitor of our shop in Connaught Place. Bishan Dass ji was fortunate to receive his priceless blessings & guidance on Music, Sound & Tone. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Saheb is also fond of Bishan Dass ji and always send his instruments for finer tuning. Bishan Dass ji made Tambouris and his new creation Swarsangam for Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Saheb.
Late Pandit Ravi Shankar
Our association with respected Panditji dates back in early 1940’s at Lahore(now in Pakistan) where he met Rikhi Ram ji who came to greet him after his concert in the green room with bowed head introducing himself as instrument maker further to request him for visit to his music shop in Anarkali Bazaar. Pandit Ji was short of time due to his return back to Delhi early next day promised him this year Bishan Dass ji joined A.I.R as musical instrument expert & in the same year Pt.ji was the chief composer there. It was then that Bishan Dass ji became his student and learnt the detail character of the sound and tone of Maihar Gharana. Bishan Dass & Pt.ji used to discuss for hours ways to make the sitar in a standardized form & call it a Pt. Ravi Shankar style sitar or Maihar Gharana style. Sitar playing really helped Bishan Dass ji while making new innovative changes in the sitar and these changes have been accepted and are being played by all musicians. The sitar Pt.ji is playing since 1979-80 has been made by Bishan Dassji. In 1965 Pt.ji discussed with him the constant problem of travelling with huge Tanpura. These tanpuras were very delicate so they used to get damaged easily. Bishan Dass ji pondered on this problem and finally made an all wooden Tamboori. This Tamboori was very compact and easy to travel with, the size was half of the big tanpuras. The best thing about these tambooris was that they had the same tonal quality as the traditional tanpuras and could be tuned to any pitch. These tambooris are played by all the musicians today. Pt.ji's daughter Anoushka is also playing sitars made by us. She is very satisfied with her main sitar. Bishan Dassji assisted with son Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma had designed Ovation sitar (new innovation) both for Pt.ji and Anoushka.
Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma had extensively travelled around the world with Pt.ji from the year 1995 to 2005. While travelling with him he used to take care of all his instruments & also used to assist him in sound checks before the performance. He learnt a lot about sitar tone from Pt.ji during these tours. Gradually over the years Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma has further developed & modified the hollowness of the Ovation sitar. He has amplified it & converted it into Electric sitar called Zitar..
Pandit Jasraj Ji
Pt. Jasraj ji came to know of ‘RIKHI RAM’ & Bishan Dass(Prop.) from his fellow musicians. He immediately paid a visit to our shop in Connaught Place where he found a variety of tanpuras in different shape and design. He instantly fell in love with tamboori which Bishan Dass had designed way back in 1965. Earlier the Tambooris were criticized & only instrumentalist used to play it but Pt.Jasraj ji being a vocalist appreciated the effort put into designing & was surprised by the sound generated by the tamboori which was 1/4th the size of big tumba base traditional tanpura. Now that the traveling of the musicians have become imperative, the tambooris are very convenient to carry, handle and tune. Pt. ji and his students are a regular patron of our shop.
Padma Vibhushan Shiv Kumar Sharma
Pt. Shiv ji’s father late Pt. Uma Dutt Sharma was a regular visitor to the Rikhi Ram shop in Lahore & discussed many possibilities of different instruments with late Pt.Rikhi Ram ji. Shiv ji used to accompany his father to the shop & met Bishan Dassji there. Since then Pt.Shiv ji is a regular visitor for Tambooris, Santoors & instrument cases
Padma Vibhushan Amzad Ali Khan
Sanjay Sharma, who is not only very successfully carrying on the family tradition, but, like his father, venturing into unchartered waters to create new and exciting instruments and new sounds to meet the challenges of the new world of music and modifying old instruments for new world upcoming artists.
Pandit Bhajan Sopuri
Bishan Dassji’s association with the sopuri family goes back a long way. Shumbhunathji, father of Bhajan sopuri is a long time friend of Bishan Dass. Shumbhunathji used to come from Kashmir to Lahore to buy his instruments. In the 1976,professor sahib for the first time brought his son Bhajan ji to our shop in Connaught Place. Since that time Bhajan ji has been coming to our shop regularly.
Bhajan ji and Bishan Dass used to have long discussions about music and the changes that could be brought about in Santoor playing. To accommodate the versalities in music Bhajan ji asked Bishan to increase the no. of bridges in his Santoor and also introduced the concept of meend work in the Santoor. Bhajanji discussed all the changes he wanted to be made in his santoor and finally Bishan ji crafted a custom made santoor for him which he plays in all his concerts. Bhajan ji’s son Abhay sopuri also comes regularly to get his Santoor serviced.
Pandit Debu Chaudhuri
Bishan Dass ji came to know of Pt. Debu Chaudhuri when he was appointed by the Delhi University in 1958/59 as a sitar professor. Bishan ji became his undeterred fan after hearing his concerts and from then on their acquaintance turned into a beautiful long lasting friendship.
Bishan ji has made a number of sitars for him and his son Prateek chaudhuri. They used to sit for hours together discussing the sound and tone of sitars and ways to enhance them & the type of material changes that could be brought about as per their Gharana.
Debu ji is continuing the Senia Gharana tradition of sitar playing of Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, who used to play sitar with 17 frets. Bishanji is very happy that Prateek Chaudhari is following on his father’s footsteps and continuing the tradition of sitar playing with 17 frets.
We hope to continue this family relationship and keep making sitars for the coming generations also.
Debu ji is also very fond of Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma& his son Prateek Chaudhuri is continuing the tradition of sitar playing with 17 frets. Prateek’s sitar is also made & maintained by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma.
Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya
Pt. Hari ji came to know of Bishan Dass from Pt. Shiv Kumar sharma. Pt.Hari ji was amazed to hear the sound of the beautifully crafted Tamboori which could be tuned to the different pitches but the size of the instrumental Tamboori remained the same. The first time Pt. Hari ji visited the shop was in 1972, since then he and his students are a regular visitor to the shop.
Recently in year 2015 Pt.Ji had come to the shop to buy a new tamboori. When Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma enquired about the older tamboori of his, instead of saying it was stolen, he simply said that “someone must have had a greater need of the instrument than me & took it.” Such greatness in thought can be associated with Pt.ji only.
Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee
Rikhiram’s association with Budhaditya ji is very old, he used to often visit Bishan Dass & there used to be hour long discussions on music. Bishan Dass & Budhadityaji used to discuss a lot the technical structure of sitar like how much should be the thickness of the wood, the kind of tumba required for a particular tone etc. This technical knowhow is helping Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma to continue making Professional quality sitars.
Ust. Shahid Pervez
Ust Shahid ji was also a regular visitor at Rikhiram. Bishan Dass understood his individual sound & style of playing & accordingly made changes in the sitar. All his students sitars are made as per his specifications
Ust. Shujaat Khan
Shujaat ji belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana of the sitar & his style of playing sitar is known as the gayaki ang, is imitative of the subtleties of the human voice. When Shujaat ji’s was a little boy, Ustad Vilayat Khan ji asked Bishan Dass to make a small sitar for him. From childhood to present day, Shujaat ji he has been playing sitars made by Rikhi Ram. Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma has had many sittings with Shujaat ji to understand the tone of his sitar. He likes a very sweet tone of sitar. We are privileged to make sitars for Ustad Vilayat Khan sahib ji & now for Shujaatji. Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma has also made the Zitar for him, which he uses in his playings.
Pandit Prateek Chaudhuri
Prateek is the new generation artist & is following the senia gharana tradition. When Debu ji started teaching sitar to Prateek, his baby sitar was also made by Bishan Dass.
Prateek follows the Senia gharana, so the tone required by him has been understood by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma. To attain the sound required by this gharana, Bishan & Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma had to make the thickness of the sound board & fret board in a certain manner. A special dimension of wood has to be used for the thickness of the neck, to attain the tonality required by them. Prateek is a regular visitor to the shop & gets his sitars made & maintained by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma
When Anoushka started learning sitar, Pt. Ravi ji asked Bishan Dass to make a baby sitar for her & gradually as she grew up, her other sitars were also made by Bishan Dass.
Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma’s association with Anoushka dates back to year 1994 when Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma was travelling with Pandit Ravi Shankar ji. In the year 1998, he was commissioned by Pandit ji to make a sitar for Anoushka as per her specifications. She preferred less leaf decoration on the sitar tumba to make her comfortable to place the right hand. Her present day sitar is made by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma & she doesn’t use the 2nd tumba
Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma had the pleasure of meeting Norah in year 1998 in California & again in year 2012, when she was performing in Siri Fort Auditorium.
Bishan Dass & Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma have been associated with Steve Slawek since year 1991. Steve, a senior disciple of Pt. Ravi Shankar ji, had an old sitar when he joined him & was not happy with the sound of it. Ravi ji asked him to visit Bishan Dass & Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma & check the sitars made by us. Ptji earlier used to play sitars made by Nodu Mullick & Steve was really fond of the bigger size dimensions of sitar. He commissioned us to make a sitar with the same dimensions, but using our Rikhi Ram technology. He did not want us to compromise in the tonal sound of the sitar. He really liked the sitar & later on also got a Burmese teak sitar made from us. Since then we have been taking care of his instruments. Steve is the Head of Music Department of University of Texas at Austin.
David first visited Bishan Dass & Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma in the year 1988, during his musical training under Ust. Vilayat Khan ji in Dehradun. He got a sitar made as per his specification in the year 1991-1992 & since then has been closely associated with Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma. David is a sitar Professor at Carlton University, USA & Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma is still maintaining all his & his Students instruments.
Bishan Dass & Kartik Kumar’s association dates back to years when they were both learning sitar under the tutelage of Pt. Ravi Shankarji. Kartik kumar’s sitar was also maintained by Bishan Dass. Niladri started visiting us when he was a young boy & started learning sitar. He bought his first traditional sitar from us. He really liked the Ovation sitar made by Bishan Dass & Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma. He was excited on hearing the sound & tonal quality of the Electric sitar made by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma & instantly bought one in the year 2008. He asked Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma to make a different colour electric sitar, so the present Red Electric sitar played by Niladri has been made specially for him. The Zitar was earlier called Electric sitar by Pt. Sanjay Rikhiram Sharma, but then Niladri re-named it “Zitar”, so the name stays.