Anokhelal Mishra (Hindi: अनोखेलाल मिश्रा; 1914 – 10th March, 1958) - also spelled as Anokhe Lal Misra and commonly known as Pandit Anokhelalji — was an Indian Tablā Artist who belonged to the Banaras Gharana of Hindustani classical music.
Early Life: Anokhelal was born in a very poor family of Kashi (Banaras), now known as Varanasi (State – Uttar Pradesh). Bhairow prasad Mishra detected his talent and enrolled him as a student of the Tabla in the Banaras Gharana of Ram Sahaiji at the age of 5 or 6 years. Anokhelal learnt tabla under Bhairow Prasad Mishra (Bhairow is also spelled as Bhairav or Bhairon) for about 15 years. Bhairow Prasad Mishra was disciple of Bhagat-ji. Bhagat-ji was disciple of Ram Sahai, the founder of The Banaras-Bāj (aka Banaras Gharana). According to The Banaras Bāj -The Tablā Tradition of a North Indian City by David Roach, Anokhelal was the most famous disciple of Bhairav Prasad Mishra among Maulvi Ram Mishra, Mahavir Bhatt, Mahadev Prasad Mishra, Anokhelal Mishra, and Nageshvar Prasad. He lost his parents as teenager. After that he was brought up by his grand mother. As a child, Anokhelal had to suffer poverty and deprivation.
Musical Journey: Anokhelal put in unremitting Riyaaz (practice) under the guidance of Guruji (Master), which went on for hours together, every day. Anokhelalji’s relentless practice lent a unique clarity to his Tabla syllables. He was applauded for his superb ‘Nikas' (sound production).
Special Abilities: He was called the Jadugar (wizard) of 'Na Dhin Dhin Na ' (theka of Teen Taal- 16beats) and 'Dhere Dhere Kite Taka' (particular tabla syllables). He used to play these and many more syllables with clarity even at an extreme speed. He was very fast playing 'Na Dhin Dhin Na' with his 1st finger. This assured him a place in history as Legendary Tabla Artist. For these extraordinary abilities he is known as a ‘Legendary Tabla Maestro’ all around the world.
Performances: Pandit Anokhelal was a soloist as well as an accompanist. Anokhelal performed a number of solo concerts during his career and also gave `Sangat` (accompany) to many famous musicians and classical dancers. Some of them are Ustad Allauddin Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, etc. Within his short span of life he performed regularly in several places and concerts throughout. At a time, when performing in the 'National Programme of Music' on All India Radio was a matter of prestige, Pandit Anokhelal figured in the same, a number of times. In 1940 the documentry film named 'Music of India' featured Anokhelal Mishra as Tabla Player. In the late 50's (after 1950), his programmes were broadcast by the Voice of America as well.
Legacy and Critical Acclaim: He is also known as the Samrat (king) of Tabla Playing. All together he is know as Tabla Samrat Pandit Anokhelal Mishra. Anokhelal is credited for making the worldwide audience familiar with the Banaras style of Tabla. Apart from his skills as an accompanist, his Solo-recitals were also proof of his excellent 'Taiyaari' and tonal sweetness.
Nature and Personality: He is remembered all over the world for his simplicity, his sober humble personality and, most of all, for his tremendous 'riyaz' (intensive practice). He is still known for his endurance when playing Tabla. Being such a great artist he used to maintain a sober and normal life profile rather than showing off and behaving like a celebrity. He never publicized himself of what he was.
Disciples: Anokhelal trained many musicians of India. His son Ramji Mishra, Mahapurush Misra, Ishwarlal Mishra (alias Lallu), Chhotelal Misra, Chandra Nath Shastri, Radhakanta Nandi, Kashinath Mishra (son), Bityut Banerjee, Partha Nath Shastri, Chakkan Lal Mishra are some of the prominent pupils of Pt. Anokhelal Mishra.
Stories: There are several interesting stories about this legendary tabla maestro. One of them is: He used to practice tabla for 14 to 18 hours a day. Another one is: The intensity of his practice was such that over time a depression formed in the hard floor on which he practiced.
Death: He was afflicted by Gangrene of his left foot in 1956 and for this disease he expired on March 10, 1958, at a young age of 44.
Inspiration: It is said that the unparalleled genius, Pandit Anokhelal Mishra has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to many tabla players from this generation, as well as future generations.
"Samrat" - Rare Gems Tal: Teental Duration: 45.27mins Accompanied in Harmonium by Gyanprakash Ghosh. - That recording dates back to the 26th of December 1957 at a concert attended by artists like Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, Habibuddin Khan, Maseet Khan, Karamatulla Khan etc.