Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tribute to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

As a child, I still recall the first time I heard the Shuddha Kalyan by Panditji - बतिया तोरा, on a 78 RPM record. 40 years have passed but its magic has not worn off even a wee bit. Later in college days, his three evergreen compositions - सोहे लरा री in Kedar, धन धन मंगल गावो in Kalashree and तू रस का in Durga triggered off an everlasting addiction of classical music.
Then one late night on top of Fort Rajmachi, one of us was fiddling with the transistor, which caught on unknown station and started playing 'सखी मंद झाल्या तारका'. For a moment we relaxed back into our sleeping bags and then suddenly sat up dazed. The voice was Bhimsenji's, not Sudhir Phadke! We could not quite believe our ears that the same powerful voice which had sung रम्य ही स्वर्गाहुनी लंका could bring out such soulful rendering of 'ते प्रेमगाणे छेडणारा सूर तू होशील का'. (If you still haven't heard this, you can do so now on esnips).
And the several early mornings of the concluding recital in Sawai - Ramkali, Jogiya or an Ahir Bhairav, and his ending it with a Bhairavi. How can anyone ever forget his बाबुल मोरा नैहर छूटो जाय?
Then, at the end as everyone stood up to pay homage to Sawai Gandharva and his Bhairavi record was being played, one could see Panditji standing with his head bowed down, humility and respect personified.
I will forever remain indebted to him for showing this huge treasure to me. I am sure there are millions of others with whom I share these sentiments today.
What can one say about the greatness of a person who has enthralled millions of fans for over seven decades with his singing?
All I can do is post a clip from an recording, from way back in 1954. (God bless the soul who thought of recording it then.) Its an captivating rendering of Yaman lasting for nearly an hour (कैसन की - विलंबित एकताल, शाम बजाये आज मुरलिया - द्रुत तीनताल and then a तराणा in द्रुत एकताल.)
I am no expert on Pt. Bhimsen Joshi (I still cannot bring myself to writing 'Late' before his name) but I think he rarely sang a tarana. Am posting only the last bit of the recording here. The photographs are from Google, thanks to all the photographers. I think they won't mind me using these pictures here.
It is only appropriate that I should pay homage to him by posting a tarana in Yaman, a raag that is often sung in the beginning of a concert. Kumarji once said that when words fall short of expressing emotions, a Tarana takes over.
With this, I can start a new phase of devoted listening to his voice.