The most eminent Kathak dancer of recent times is Pandit Birju Maharaj. He is the only son and disciple of Shri Achyan Maharaj and is a competent inheritor of the Lucknow Gharana. Birju Maharaj is a very talented and dignified personality. He is a born artist. Born in the family of hereditary dancers, Birju Maharaj is the torch bearer of the famous family, Kalka-Bindadin Gharana of Lucknow, which has been serving the art of Kathak dance through centuries together. Not only in India, he is well known nearly all over the world. He is a wonderful singer, having command over Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Ghazals and is also superb drummer, playing nearly all drums with ease and precision. He has given a new dimension to Kathak, by experimenting with this technique in the application of dance-dramas, which has become a very successful medium for mass propagation. As a choreographer he is the finest in the country today. His bold and intellectual compositions in traditional themes are brilliant, whereas his contemporary works are also refreshing in concept, crisp and entertaining. He directed and composed music and sung playback for two classical dance sequences in the film, 'The Chess Players' directed by Satyajit Ray. A measure of his genius is the fact that at the age of 28 years, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award. In 1986, he received the prestigious 'Padma Bibhushan' tittle from the Goverment of India. He also received the 'Kalidas' award. He is also a recipient of 'Nehru Fellowship' in the name of India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He is an institution in himself. Currently, he is the chief faculty at Delhi's Kathak Kendra.