Kishori Mohan Naskar (1923–1988) for years is considered to be the best string instruments maker (sitar, sarod, surbahar, tanpura) among the whole world. Many great musicians, including Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vilayat Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali, Annapurna Devi, Bade Ghulam Ali and many more have praised his creations.
Born in a village in Diamond Harbour, 24 Parganas,West Bengal, India in 1923, He went to Bhowanipore (Kolkata) in West Bengal, India at the age of 15 to learn the art of sitar making. However, he didn't have money enough to buy his own instrument, so he took a job in the instrument shop of Makhanlal & sons. He started making sitars and soon found that local musicians praised his work.
Kishori Mohan Naskar started his own business in 1941 and spent his whole life researching the various aspects of sound, design and composition of an instrument. One can see how the assimilation of different styles of sitar playing enabled him to find newer avenues of improvement in terms of look and tonal quality. Here the artisan transcends his level and soars into the class of an artist. He wanted to make the sitar sound like the human voice. He made the tabli (wooden cover on top of the gourd) and the Dandi (the neck) strong enough to withstand heavier strokes and tapings on thicker strings thus making it more appropriate for meend(bending) which is an essential element of Indian music. This added to the clarity of tone and optimised the balance between the sound inside the gourd and the sound produced outside. Many documentary films on his life and work were also been made.
Kishori Mohan Naskar died in 1st April 1988, and he used to still work in the last years of his life. He had his son Arabinda Roy (Naskar), that he groomed to carry on his tradition. The shop is now run by Arabinda. Like his father, a musician and an innovator, Arabinda has won praise from great musicians for maintaining the family quality and and also adapting to changing times.He has experimented more on sound and at last discovered the various aspects of sound and its quality. Nowadays Arabinda Roy (Naskar) is the topmost manufacturer of the finest quality of sitar, sarod, surbahar, tanpura among the whole world. He has a great reputation of his products with superior quality, melodious sound and everlasting strongness. He makes fiber glass cases too. Now Arabinda’s son Krishnendu Roy is helping him in sales & correspondence section among the world.
Arabinda Roy, is an unassuming down-to-earth individual. Sitar,Sarod,Surbahar & Tanpura manufacturers of very very high repute, their handmade musical instruments are a favourite with celebrity musicians.Name it and the list seems to be endless -- Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan,Vilayat Khan, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, V.B. Jog, Rai Chandra Boral, Ustad Abdul Ali Zafar khan, Nikhil Bandhopadhyay, Ajoy Chakraborty, Manna Dey, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Maniram, Aktar Samani and Jahanara Nishi (Bangladesh) were regular visitors at Naskar's unassumed 8ft by 11ft workshop-cum-office on Ganga Prasad Mukherjee Road in Bhowanipore. They are not their valued customers. All India Radio Stations in Imphal, Kohima, Port Blair and Doordarshan use their instruments. The Naskars often ship consignments abroad. No wonder, its is a craze among classy musicians to own a beautiful piece of instrument made by the Naskars. From tree to finished product their products boast superior quality with melodicious sound. Mastercraftsmen that they are, they learnt the nuances of their trade from their father Late Kishori Mohan Naskar. Say Arabinda,"For my father making a sitar was a work of art. He made each one with meticulous care." Pankaj Kumar Mullick used to visit the place often, while taking the delivery he would hear it once. So amazed would be at the quality of the sound produced that often tears would roll down his eyes, he would say "You will live for another 200 years".Late Kishori Mohan Naskar developed the smaller version of the all wood tanpura (drone) in the 1970s. He also made the Mohan Bina (an instrument between a sarod, sitar and surbahar), so named because the idea of this made-to-order instrument came from Radhika Mohan Mitra. Suggestions for making unusual instruments like the sursinger would often come from renowned artists .
Elaborating on how a sitar is made, Arabinda says, " Teak wood is used for the danthi, Shisham wood for the knobs, Gourd for the tabli is imported from Australia. The purdeh or frets are made of German silver, 20 of which are required for each instrument and it comes from Austria. Bronze and Steel strings come from Germany, Celluloid for the inlays from Japan.