Gurbachan Singh Sachdev is the kind of musical icon you can't mess with. As the world's acknowledged master of the bamboo flute, or bansuri, he's got cred to burn and his music is the kind of stuff that will transfix angry animals and encourage serpents to coil back into their lairs. But it wasn't always smooth sailing for Sachdev, who was born into a nonmusical Punjabi family. As a child he was transfixed by shepherds' flute playing and by the time he was 14 he knew he wanted to play music, though his father was deeply opposed. Fortunately his music-loving mother (who was also a singer and harmonium player in her own right) continued to encourage his love of music. After college, it took Sachdev six years to find Vijay Raghav Rao, his musical guru, whom he studied with for the next 12 years. Together they found work in the Bombay film industry but Sachdev ultimately abandoned Bollywood's westernized compositions -- and avoided fashionable fusions -- to continue exploring the depths of traditional classical music. The choice paid off: Sachdev's recordings and live performances are renowned for their subtlety, tonal richness and emotional heft.