1st Death Anniversary: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi...
By Kovid Rathee - January 24 2012
I guess, while I am writing about him, he is singing Brindabani Sarang somewhere in the heavens. I vaguely remember that Doordarshan program with all those singers, mile sur mera tumhara. We’ve all have lived that song, at one point or the other. I never got a chance to see him perform live. For me, it all started with his masterpieces like Paayaliya Jhankaar Mori in Puriya Dhanashree. I remember when I first heard of that bandish in a fusion album by Pandit Ajay Pohankar; it was on my mind 24×7. In the coming years, I got around recordings of the same composition by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. I have around three hours of Puriya Dhanashree by Panditji. I am always looking for more.
I have been listening to a recording of his at the Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan of 1956. He is reciting Multani’s famous bandish Nainan Mein Aan Baan Kaun Si Pari. Multani was probably amongst his favorites. The renditions of Multani have been extraordinary. In fact, his recitals of Raagas like Puriya Dhanashree, Brindabani Sarang, Kalashree, Darbari Kanada, Marwa, Puriya, Bhairav, Ramkali, Jog, Puriya Kalyan, Miyan Ki Malhar, Komal Rishab Asavari, Jaunpuri and Madhuwanti should be treated as reference material for the ages to come. These recordings are ‘pure musical pleasure’ for the people who listen to Hindustani Music. And for the people who learn Hindustani Music, these recordings are treasure.
Pt. Bhimsen Joshi - Thumri Bhairav
Again coming back, I always wonder what it would have been like to listen to him live. How lucky those people were who got a glimpse of him performing! This always haunts my mind. Anyways, nothing can be done about it. So, I just stick to the YouTube for new videos of him performing. I’ve collected a few videos released by Doordarshan and Navras; and also tens of hours of audio recordings. I am always on the lookout.
He was one of the three persons awarded the Bharat Ratna during the last decade. With all due respect, I believe that the award itself was lucky to be given to such a man. I’ve been lucky to listen to him on an everyday basis. In my view, he is up there with all those big-ones of the likes of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Ustad Faiyaz Khan and so on. Panditji was one of the few classical vocalists who brought back the charm and popularity in Khayal. His style was an amalgamation of various Gharanas. Hailing from Kirana Gharana, he would still incorporate styles of Indore, Jaipur and other Gharanas also.
Take a moment, make a conscious effort and understand how lucky we people are to have been born in a age where Pandit Bhimsen Joshi sang.
P.S. – The Drinking Problem.
I just read an interview by Girish Karnad where he expresses how his drinking problem didn’t affect his singing. I came to know this fact of Panditji just today. I didn’t know that he, in a latter phase of his life, was alcoholic. I’ve heard stories about a few popular musicians who were became severely alcoholic at some stage in their lives. The other name that comes to my mind is Ustad Naseer Ahmed Khan of Delhi. I met this learned fellow, quite old, named Swadesh Bandhu last year, during the Shriram Shankarlal Music Festival 2011. And he told me whole lot of things about various musicians. He told me that he knew Naseer Ahmed Khan Sa’ab and told me that Khan Sa’ab had a drinking problem. But, of course, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi ji never let alcohol come between him and music. I’ve heard that he performed after taking alcohol sometimes, but never did he fail to create that connection with the audience.
Here’s the compilation of a few bandishes sung by him; http://bandishein.wordpress.com/tag/pandit-bhimsen-joshi/
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