Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Knowing Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

Born in the house of a teacher, his strong attraction towards music didn't go well with his father. His father wanted Bhimsen to study either medicine or engineering. This conflict of interests persuaded the 11 year old Bhimsen to run away from home in 1933 and travel to Gwalior, a city well known for its musical treasures.

Cash strapped and going without food at times, Pt. Joshi traveled a lot in and around north India to listen to great singers and players like Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Vazebuva, Kesarbai Kerkar, Ustad Bismilah Khan. Initially Pt. Joshi started learning under the guidance of Janappa Kurtkoti, student of the great Hazrat Inayat Khan. Later, Pt. Joshi continued learning with various singers like Pt. Mangatram of Jalandar, Rajabhaiya Punchvalleh of Gwalior and Mushtaq Hussain of Rampur.

While travelling these cities, he at last met his father who had set out to find his boy. Witnessing Pt. Joshi's love for singing, his father took him to Rambhau Kungolkar of Kundgol village in Karnataka. Rambhau better known as Savai Gandharva, accepted Pt. Joshi as his student.

Rambhau was a vocalist of the Kirana Gharana, whose tradition and foundation can be traced back to Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and his great grandfather Ghulam Ali and Ghulam Maula, the brother of Ghulam Ali. Rambhau made Pt. Joshi practice Todi, Puria and Multani raag for almost 8 hours everyday. After learning as much as he could from 1936 to 1941, Pt. Joshi moved to Pune (in those days learning and practicing continuously for at least 5-8yrs under a guru was a must).

Pt. Joshi used to practice as much as 16-18 hrs everyday. He had one very important principle in life, "If you want to become an outstanding artist, a 'one in a million', then even your health has to be 'one in a million'." Daily exercise was part of his schedule and he also used to spend time playing football and hockey.

One other passion of his life was cars. Riding a cycle, motorbike and then buying his own car, he went on to buy his very own Mercedes-Benz. He has been noted to love driving his cars a lot.

Words I write about Pt. Joshi are nothing but dry drops of ink, which would otherwise flow gracefully if he himself were to talk or sing. So I leave you with these two exquisite interviews of Pt. Joshi (one marathi and one in hindi), very insightful and a lot to take away. And of course my favourite Raag Yaman Kalyan.

Data courtesy Maharashtra Times.