That Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s passing away late last month has left an unbreachable void in the field of Hindustani classical music is an understatement of the millennium. Revered as the modern-day Tansen, his sturdy vocals, terrific breath control and amazing flair held his listeners in thrall.

The son of a school teacher in Ron, which was part of the Gadag district in Karnataka, Joshi had sixteen younger siblings. While still a child Joshi evinced keen interest in music, must to the consternation of his father who was nursing high professional ambitions for his eldest offspring. If some old timers are to be believed, it was a recording of Abdul Karim Khan’s Thumri in Raga Jhinjhoti that changed the mindset, indeed the life, of the young Joshi.

At age 11 he fled home and hearth in search of a guru; his train co-passengers, it is rumored, lent him the money to fulfill his quest. Seeking a guru from the Kirana Gharana – Abdul Karim Khan being its esteemed founder – he went from one town in North India to the next, almost. Hearing about Sawai Gandharva, the chief disciple of Abdul Karim Khan, in Dhadwad Joshi became his disciple a la guru-shishya style.

This space is dedicated to the maestro who not just enriched the listening pleasure of his ever-billowing fan club but who also added unique features to his singing by introducing elements from other gharanas and by inventing new ragas.

As a tribute to the musician’s genius I have chosen the album Unsung by Times Music. The album, which marked his 80th birthday, features two afternoon ragas- Shuddh Sarang and Marwa. These renditions were personally hand-picked by the maestro as they had never been recorded before.

Be it the long-tempoed Vilambit Khayal in Raga Shuddh Sarang or the short take drut khayal in Raga Marwa, both recitals display all the elements of Kirana gayaki with emphasis on swaras, with each swara treated independently, perfected and embellished. In Joshi’s gayaki one also, sees, however, the impeccable thrust on the bandish or composition, a la the Gwalior style. The full-bodied aakar taans are a seditious contrast to the syllabic sargam taans, the hallmark of Panditji’s prolific gharana.

Both the ragas featured in Unsung, Shuddh Sarang and Marwa, are melancholic and ponderous. Rendered by a superb musician who is no more, they attain a stature that is hard to comprehend. Panditji will be missed in many many years to come.


26 responses »

  1. Gopal Chakravarthy says:

    Hi Indani…well written. Are you the same Indrani that studied in Sathya Sai College in Anantapur. I share your love for music…and was a volunteer at SPICMACAY. We’ve met if you the indrani I know from Anantapur.

  2. Indrani Talukdar says:

    Thanks Smita.

  3. Smita Luthra says:

    Very interesting post, Indrani. It is sad, yet no surprise, that a rare genius had to flee from the norms of society in order to make itself heard.
    Thanks for the wonderful writeup. 🙂

  4. Dear Indra,

    Lovely tribute to the maestro. Thanks to you, we are having a music post where people weary in their daily schedules can take off on the notes of ragas and surs.

  5. Indrani Talukdar says:

    Thanks Sonal, for your lovely comment.

  6. Sonal Shree says:

    I’d always recall Pandit Bhimsen Joshi for his singing Mile Sur Mera Tumhara. Truly a legand. Thanks for this blog Indrani.

  7. vimala ramu says:

    I had attended one of his concerts at Vigyan Bhavan. It was not just a concert, but a journey to the eternal. He had this way of transporting the listener to the realms of heavenly music.

  8. J S Broca says:

    Dear Indrani ji,yes passing away of this great music maestro is a great loss for all music lovers.I believe that “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” continues to be the best song and video on the subject of national integration till date.It was intended to instill a sense of pride and promote unity amongst Indians, highlighting the different linguistic communities and societies that live in India – India’s unity in diversity, so to speak.And it really succeeded in its efforts. I still remember to have heard it when it was telecast for the first time on Independence Day 1988, after the telecast of the Prime Minister’s speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.I had loved its lyrics !
    Long Live Pd Bhimsen Joshi.The “sur”may be dead,but its”vibrations”will always linger in our hearts.A good blog indeed.
    Retired Chief Manager
    Bank of India,
    New Delhi.

    • Indrani Talukdar says:

      You know, everyone remembers him for ‘Mile sur…’ but the genius authored quite a few unique ragas as well. Mile sur is in Bhairavi, by the way, and I agree, absolutely stunning. Thanks a lot for your comment.

  9. beyniaz says:

    Super blog. A fitting tribute to the passing of a legend.

  10. A fitting tribute to a great legend.

    He became more popular with the younger generation only after the famous “Mile Sur Mera Tumhaara” advt telecast by DDK. People make so much fun of DoorDarshan, but in my opinion, the days of ONLY Doordarshan, was really nice and perhaps that was how we could see great maestros like Bhimsen Joshi more often.

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Shernaz says:

    A great tribute, Deepika and as usual, a lot to learn from for me. Thanks.

  12. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Write Space would have been incomplete without this fitting tribute which I knew would be flowing from your pen.

  13. deepika says:

    A well deserved tribute to Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

  14. Mira Pawar says:

    Indrani well written blog. Hindustani classical music is incomplete without Pandit Bhimsen Joshi being mentioned. He will be missed terribly by the classical music lovers. May his soul rest in peace..

  15. nadi says:

    he will live forever

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