Pt. Bhimsen Joshi For the last five decades, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi has ridden the Zenith of excellence. Today, he has been hailed as a living gem of ?purest ray serene?, whose classical Hindustani voice transports you to the realm of the music of the spheres.
Although born into a Brahmin family, in the small village of Gadag in the Dharwar region of Karnataka, Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi?s father dreamt of him pursuing higher education in science. He hoped that his son would become an engineer or a doctor. But fate willed otherwise. Since childhood itself, Bhimsen Joshi was drawn to music both metaphorically and literally, for often he was found wandering in those areas which reverberated with music, while his family frantically searched for him everywhere.
Things came to such a pass that his father affixing the address on his back hoping that some kind bystander would deposit the child back home when he would wander off following the musical note.
The pull of music was to prove too strong and so the young Bhimsen left home in search of a guru at the age of 12 years. For 2 years, this search took him to Bijapur, Gwalior and Pune before reaching Kolkata.
Here he reached the home of Kolkata?s famous New Theatre? star ? the singer actor- Pahadi Sanyal. He was briefly employed here as a domestic worker.
Next he reached Rampur and learnt for a short while from Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan. It was during the Harvallabh Music Festival that someone told him about Pt. Rambhao Kundgolkar-better known as Sawai Gandharwa. The doyen of the Kirana Gharana was by this time, getting on in years, but Bhimsen?s determination brooked no excuses.
In 1936, Bhimsen Joshi began formal training under the tutelage of SawaiGandharva. He bestowed on him the foundations of Khayal Gayaki. Coupled with his intense devotion, Bhimsen became one with the ragas he sang.
During the years of intense practice and riyaaz, not only did he strengthen the fundamental canons of Kirana Gharana, but embellished his personal style with elements from other Gharanas. The outcome was a distinctive signature style unique to Bhimsen Joshi himself.
Apart from Khayal, Pt. Bhimsen is also known for rendering Thumri and Bhajan. Who can resist yearning in ?Piya Milan Ki Aas? or the heartfelt emotions in ?jo bhaje hari ko sada? or the joyousness of ?mile sure mera tumhara? Infact his brief foray into film music testifies to his sense of the popular.
Creativity within the raag or in synthesizing 2 raags to new raags is also a mark of Bhimsen Joshi. In Lalit Bhatiyar which is actually an amalgamation of Lalit and Bhatiyar, or in blending creative stylized elements from different gharanas were effortless enlivened by the magical voice of the maestro.
In January 1946, at the age of 24, Bhimsen Joshi presented his first public concert in Pune on the occasion of his guru?s 60th birthday. Soon his fame spread not only accoss India but also the world- a unique position he held five decades and more.
The Govt. of India honored him with a Padmashree in 1972, the Central Sangeet Natak academy award in 1976 and the Padmabhooshan in 1985. It is noteworthy that like Mallikarjun Mansur and Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen too has reached the pinnacle of Hindustani Music although born in the southern part of India- a living example of the one-ness of India.
Few people know of Panditji?s other passion tinkering with automobile engines, however it never got in the way of his driving passion-music.
And thus for over five decades Pt. Bhimsen Joshi has regaled connoisseurs of Music with 24 carat oral gold.
Culled from Doordarshan archives are these select recordings, from different stages from the maestro?s five decade long career.
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