Famous Personalities from IndoreWe often do we fail to understand the fine line between being known and being famous. That difference lies inherently within the nature of the fame and what impact that the person has had over the lives of the people around them. Indore as part of India has produced some of the finest personalities in the world. Today, we bring to you the list of the people from Indore who went on to inspire fellow citizens with their deeds.
Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar (31 May, 1725 – 13 August, 1795)
Born in Maharashtra and married into the Holkars of Indore, Maharani Ahilya Holkar became the Queen of Malwa, a Maratha Kingdom in what today is known as Madhya Pradesh. She lost her husband, the then ruler of Malwa Khanderao Holkar in the battle of Kumbher in 1754. After her father in law Malhar Rao Holkar died, she was crowned the Queen and then she moved her capital to Maheshwar, to the south of Indore on the banks of the mighty Narmada River. She was a great Queen indeed, as during her reign over Malwa, and because of her policy decisions, her subjects including traders, peasants and women were uplifted from poverty and hardships. An immensely popular ruler among her subjects, Maharani Ahilya Bai was also very popular among the other rulers of neighbouring kingdoms as well as the British. She was also a great patron to religious places and built several temples and Dharmashalas (free lodges) not just in her own kingdom but also elsewhere in India. Most of the temples built in her command still stand today. A rare gem in the male dominated history of India, Maharani Ahilya Bai of Indore has left a mark on the history of not just the great city of Indore but also India.
Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar (14 April, 1891 – 6 December, 1956)The Architect of the Constitution of India, the uplifter of the downtrodden, known to the world as Babasaheb, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar was born in Mhow, a cantonment in the Indore district, next to the city of Indore. Born in the family of a backward Mahar caste (one of the untouchable castes of India), Babasaheb Ambedkar went on to become one of the greatest men India has ever produced. He was a prolific scholar of law, economics and political science and held doctorates from the prestigious Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Although he had a chance to remain in England as a Barrister, or a scholar, he chose to return to India and vowed to free the country of the unjust caste system that had confined millions of its citizens from the lower castes in poverty and destitution. The country that was ruled by the British Colonialists, was also fractured by the caste system, riddled with inhuman practices such as untouchability.
Instead of using his position and academic excellence to his own benefits, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar went on to become the champion of the masses with his dedication to modern ideals as well as his firm determination to emancipate millions of Indians from the bounds of illiteracy, blind beliefs and the caste system. His command to the people 'Educate, Organise, Agitate' was taken up by his followers across the castes. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar laid one of the foundation stones of the free India through his struggle for equality. His movement for the Right to Water for the Dalits immediately found support in the wide spectrum of the Indian society. His Satyagraha in Mahad, the movement of Kalaram Temple in Nashik were some of the most important movements he initiated and led. A staunch critic of the unjust practices in the Hinduism, he propagated the principles of Buddha Dhamma and wrote extensively on the topic. On 14 October, 1956, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar converted formally to Buddhism in the presence of hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Nagpur. He died on 6th December 1956, just two months later, leaving behind an enormous legacy.
Other famous persons from Indore who left their mark on the history of India include, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar, known as the Napoleon of India, Yeshwantrao Holkar II, the Maharaja of Indore, Guru Radha Kishan, a freedom fighter and the champion of the workers.
Ustad Amir Khan (15 August, 1912 – 13 February, 1974)One of the most influential singers of the 20th century India who has been one of the important figures in the Hindustani Classical Music, Ustad Amir Khan was born in August, 1912 in the city of Indore. He was also the founder of the Indore Gharana of the Hindustani Classical Music. Born in the family of singers and musicians, Amir Khan was part of the legacy of Hindustani Classical Music. His grandfather Change Khan was the singer in the court of Bahadurshah Zafar, who himself was a great poet. Amir Khan's father Shahmir Khan was a Sarangi and Veena player in the court of the Holkars. Early in his life, Amir Khan Sahab was taught by his father to play Sarangi. However, seeing his talent in vocal, he started to train his son in vocal music. In the early days of his career, due to the unusual singing style of his Indore Gharana which involved a slow-tempo rendering of the Ragas and a gradual progression to the lower and middle octaves, he was not well received. However, after struggling for much of his early life, he shifted to Bombay, which immediately appreciated his style of singing. His belief that the music should emanate from the heart and touch the soul was evident from his voice and the music he created.
Lata Mangeshkar (Born 28 September, 1929)
The most respected, revered and loved singer of the modern India, Lata Mangeshkar was born in Indore in September, 1929, to Shevanti and Dinanath Mangeshkar. Although the original surname of the family was Hardikar, Dinanath changed it to Mangeshkar, as they belonged to Mangeshi, a small town in Goa. He was a famous singer at the time, and all his children including Meena, Asha, Usha, Hridaynath became famous singers along with their sister Lata. After her father's death in 1942, Lata began her career as a singer with the help of her father's close friend Vinayak Damodar Karnataki, who was popularly known as Master Vinayak. After the initial hiccups of her early career, Lata took training under the guidance of Ustad Amanat Khan Devaswale and Pandit Tulsidas Sharma. Since most of the songs in the films in the era were written by Urdu poets, the language of songs was heavily influenced by the Urdu dialects of the region. Having come under criticism for not pronouncing the Urdu words properly, Lata took lessons in the Urdu Language from a teacher called Shafi. After she mastered hard the Urdu language, she never looked back and went on to become the most loved singer of India, and came to be known as the Nightingale of India.
Salman Khan (Born 27 December, 1965)A heartthrob of millions, adored by men and women alike, known to his fans as the Box-office King, Tiger, and Bhaijaan, Adbul Rashid Salim Salman Khan, was born in Indore in December, 1965, to Salim Javed, a famous script writer and Sushila Charak. Born in the family that finds its roots in the distant land of Afghanistatn, Salman Khan today has become one the most successful, influential film personalities in the world. Having begun his career as an actor in a low key film 'Biwi Ho To Aisi', Salman shot to fame with the blockbuster 'Maine Pyar Kiya' and then went on to become the biggest star with 'Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun.' Having seen a slump in his career in the first decade of 2000, with new trends emerging in the film industry, Salman Khan recovered his career in style with films such as Dabangg, Bodyguard, Kick, and the latest Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Known as one of the most sought after 'bachelors' Salman has remained in spotlight throughout his career. Whether through controversies or his organisation Being Human, this elusive star has never ventured far from the penetrative eyes of the media and remains one of the most influential figures in the Indian film industry.
Johnny WalkerBorn as Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi in the 1920s in the family of a mill worker, Johnny Walker assumed the screen name when he came to Mumbai and started to act in the films. Prior to beginning his career in the films, Johnny had been the sole breadwinner for his family in Indore and worked as a labourer, ice candy and vegetable seller. Having been influenced by the films he saw and heard of, he came to Mumbai, worked as a conducted in the BEST buses, where it is said that he was spotted by the great actor Balraj Sahni. Having played the role of a drunkard in his early films, he was given the name Johnny Walker by none other than the visionary filmmaker Guru Dutt, drawing references from the famous whiskey brand Johnny Walker. A close friend of Guru Dutt, Johnny was deeply saddened by the shocking death of his close friend, mentor and began to withdraw from films, even after working with fine filmmakers such as Bimal Roy, Vijay Anand, B.R. Chopra. Later in his career, he quit acting in films, criticising the vulgar nature that the comedy had assumed in the 1980s. Known for his clean and harmless comedy, completely devoid of vulgarity, Johnny Walker died on 29th July, 2003.
Other Artists from Indore include Salim Khan; the co-writer of famous films such as Deewar, Sholay, Hafeez Contractor; the famous architect, Rahat Indori; the poet and song writer, M.F. Husain; the great Indian painter, Swanand Kirkire; the song writer.
Colonel C.K. Nayudu (31 October 1895 – 14 November 1967)
Having won 2 world cups and having come agonizingly close to winning it once, the Indian cricket team today is one of the most successful sporting teams in the world. However, in the glamour of today's sports, often the pioneering figures are forgotten behind the veil of the past. Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu, or to his friends, and fans known as CK, C.K. Nayudu, the first captain of the Indian cricket team was born in Indore in October of 1895 in an affluent family. He was invited by the ruler of Indore, Holkar in 1923 and named him Captain in his army. In 1926-27, when the Marylebone Cricket Club toured India, CK made 153 runs in just 116 minutes with 11 sixes, one of which had gone out of the ground. Apart from cricket, he also served as Chief Justice in the Holkar court under the rule of Shivaji Rao Holkar.
Mir Ranjan NegiThe inspiration behind the resurgence of the Women's Hockey in India, following the thrilling, championship winning campaign of the 1998 Asian Games, and the iconic Indian film 'Chak De India', Mir Ranjan Negi, the hockey legend was born in the city of Indore. Having been subjected to the public ridicule and critic following the heavy defeat against Pakistan in 1982 Asian Games, the rise of Mir Ranjan Negi, the goalkeeper of the then Indian National Field Hockey Team, has nothing short of epic. Following the humiliating defeat (1-7) against its arch rivals, Negi was criticised from all quarters of society and was even branded as “traitor” who handed the match to Pakistan and some even claimed that he had met the Pakistan High Commission the previous day. But the man never let this vicious propaganda against him get to him. He buried the ghosts of that defeat and rose from the ashes like a Phoenix, as he guided the Women's National Hockey Team to glory in the 1998 Asians games as the coach, and in 2002 Commonwealth Games when he was the goalkeeping coach. He also topped it with another Gold while working as the Assistant Coach for the Women's Team in 2004 Hockey Asia Cup.
Rahul Dravid (Born 11 January 1973)
Born in Indore in a Marathi Family, Rahul Dravid today is known as one of the most successful and iconic personalities in world cricket. Having featured among the greats of the game in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 2000, he has won several awards throughout his career. Whether with his cover drive, or his epic partnership with V.V.S. Laxman in the Kolkata test against Australia, or his grand match winning innings in Adelaide, Australia against the hosts, Rahul Dravid, a thorough gentleman has his place among the best of the best in the history of the gentleman's game.
Shankar Lakshman (7 July, 1933 – 29 April 2006)The two decades after India gained independence were probably the best decades for the sport of Hockey in India. Probably it was due to the success of the Indian Hockey Team during this period that the game could reach the far corners of this gigantic country. Shankar Lakshman, born in Indore in the pre-independence India in July, 1933, was an integral part of the incredible run of the Indian Hockey Team, that saw two Gold medals and one Silver in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics. A goalkeeper, he was also the captain of the team that won the Gold in 1966 Asian games. A Captain in the Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian Army, he quit hockey in 1968 after being excluded from the squad. Sadly though, he lived the last years of his life in destitution and died in Mhow in 2006 following a gangrene in his leg.
Among other sportspersons are Chandu Sarwate; a former Indian Cricket player, Captain Mushtaq Ali; a colleague of C.K. Nayudu in the Holkar Team, Minoti Desai, a member of the Indian Women's Cricket Team, Narendra Hirwani; the great Indian leg spinner in the Indian Cricket Team.
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