If you find using pandit/ustad/professor/vidusi cumbersome you can simply use the suffix -ji. This has the advantage that it is applicable for everybody. Bhimsenji, Kishoriji, Raviji, Vilayatji, Alauddinji even Shivji, Ganeshji etc are perfectly acceptable.
"-da" does not necessarily imply familiarity. You are perfectly okay to use it for people you have not met, or even for someone who has passed away.
Some people take the honorifics to an extreme level. I came across someone who refers to Aliakbar-ji and Annapurna-ji as "baba" (father) and "ma" (mother) respectively, which is a bit weird considering they were siblings.
cwroyds wrote:I suppose if you are being very formal you would refer to him as "Padmabhushan Nikhil Banerjee".
During the time of the Raj big landlords and important supporters of the regime used to get honorifics like Raybahadur, Raysaheb, Khansaheb etc. At the time of independence, when the new constitution was drafted, the landlord system, and these titles were done away with. Then when the civilian titles were instituted there was a huge uproar, as the opponents felt that these titles would be used as honorifics just as in the time of Raj. They were reassured that these were awards not titles, and would not be used with the name. Nowadays however these are used as honorifics and no one protests.
You know, music, art - these are not just little decorations to make life prettier. They're very deep necessities which people cannot live without. ~~ Pablo Picasso