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" PADMASHRI " Pandit Dr. S. Ballesh Bhajantri 

     An Internationally celebrated Shehnai Artist and (Patiala Gharana) Vocalist, Ghazal singer, “ Shehnai Chakravarthy ” Pandit Dr. S.Ballesh, He hails from M.K Hubli town Belgaum district) Karnataka. often referred to by the title Panditji and BadeGuruji. Ballesh is an Indian musician credited with popularizing the shehnai (a reeded woodwind instrument, While the shehnai had long held importance as a folk instrument played in traditional ceremonies in India, Ballesh is credited with elevating its status and bringing it back to the centrestage, and is working hard to keep alive the legacy of his guru Ustad Bismillah Khan.

               Shehnai Maestro PANDIT DR. S. BALLESH BHAJANTRI is conferred with India’s Fourth-Highest civilian award “ PADMASHRI ” on 73rd Republic Day in 2022 by President of India, and by this great honour the Govt of India has brought back the SHEHNAI to centre stage with this recognition. With the blessings of my late Guru Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb and Padma Bhushan Pandit Puttaraja Gawaiji, becoming the second classical musician of India after Ustad Bismillah Khan to receive the award.

State & National Awards - Ballesh is honored by Four states, 

  • Tamilnadu Government conferred him and his son Dr. Krishna Ballesh with Tamilnadu State’s Highest Civilian Award, Kalaimamani (Joint Award) in 2020,

  • Karnataka State Government conferred him with Karnataka Kalashree in 2019 (Karnataka State's Akademi Award), 

Shehnai Maestro Pandit Dr. S. Ballesh performing in Chennai Ras Barse Utsav 2016
  • Andhra Pradesh Government honored him with the Ugadi Puraskar Award in 2006 (Joint Award along with his son)

  • Andhra Pradesh Government honored him with the SriKalahasti Aasthana Vidwan Award in 2006 (Joint Award along with his son),

  • Uttar Pradesh, India Tourism Varanasi, Government of India conferred Ustad Bismillah Khan KalaRatna Samman 2021 Award (Joint Award along with his son) by Ustad Bismillah Khan family members in association with Deepika Cultural Society of India, Varanasi,  

 The Government of India, Ministry of Cultures,invited Pandit Ballesh and his son Dr. Krishna Ballesh for Sangeet Sangam International Music Festival in 2021 (Senior Musicians) organised  Kendra Sangeet Nataka Akademi, Delhi. 

Pandit Ballesh and Krishna Ballesh duo played Shehnai in the Hollywood movies (International English Movies) “ The Hundred Foot Journey - 2014 ” for the track “ India Calling ”.

Pandit Ballesh had breaked many records in India by receiving “PADMA AWARDS”:

  • Ballesh is the 2nd Shehnai player in India to receive the Padma awards after Ustad  Bismillah Khan,

  • Ballesh is the 1st Hindustani Musician to receive Padma awards in Tamilnadu,

  • Ballesh is the 1st Shehnai player to receive Padma awards in Dakshina Bharat,

  • Ballesh is the 1st Shehnai playing Playback Musician to receive Padma awards from All India film music industry,

  • Ballesh is the only Shehnai player to receive Padma Awards in Ustad Bismillah Khan Sishya  Parampara,

  • Ballesh is the 1st person in (Korama) Bhajantri community to receive Padma awards in past 73yrs, Republic of India,

  • Ballesh is the 2nd Musician to receive Padma Awards from Veerashwar Punyashram (Gadag).

A performing career of 45 years. Played Shehnai since the age of 11 , accompanying his Uncle and grandfather, and later  Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb. Has played in recordings for many Music Composers of India, across 16 languages  from 1978 to 2020 .

He is  disciple of world renowned Shennai Maestro Bharatratna Ustad Bismilah Khan. Initiated into music by his father Pandit Sanna Bharamanna he continued to learn under the guidance of his uncle Pandit Dodda Bharamanna. He further trained under Guru Dr.DP Hiremath, Kirana Gharana and Patiala Gharana from Pandit Kodanda Singh Salunke Maharaj. 


     Panditji was blessed to train under the guidance of Padmabushan Pandit Dr.Puttaraja Gawai (gadag) Gwalior Gharana- Kirana Gharana. His training was complete with his induction into the Banaras Gharana under Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb. As his foremost disciple, he also accompanied him for several years.  

     Panditji is  also renowned Hindustani classical vocalist and Ghazal singer and has been the preferred musician for  many music Directors in Bollywood, Tollywood, Mollywood, Kollywood and all languages across India (such as Maestro Naushad  Ali, Maestro M.S. Viswanathan, Maestro Ilaiyaraaja, Oscar winner A.R Rahman and M.M.Keeravani).

Panditji has also played for Hollywood  music directors and has also collaborated with International Musicians in recordings. He has also sung many Hindustani Alaaps and played shehnai for more than 7,000 background-score's for films and 45,000  film songs and around 50,000 devotional songs. He had also sang several songs along with noted singers like K.J.YesudasS.Janaki,   S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, IlaiyaraajaM.M. Keeravani and A.R. Rahman.


As a performing musicians - he has  played  in many prestigious Music Festivals and collaborated with senior musicians for  Jugalbandis - both Carnatic and Hindustani Notably,  Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan (sitar), Pt  Atul Kumar Upadhaya (violin), Ustad Shafique Khan (sitar), Vidwan G J R Krishnan (violin).  He has also performed in India as well as many other countries.

He has received many awards like Radio Mirchi Jury award, Sangit Samrat, Shehnai Samrat, Shehnai Ratna, Sangeet Ratna, KIMA Film Awards, Sanaadi Apanna Kala puraskar. He is the only Shehnai player who represents Shehnai from South India

He was conferred with "The Honorary Doctorate" D.Litt., award (Honoris Causa).

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