Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi dead
Eminent Hindustani classical vocalist
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi died of old age related ailments Monday
morning at a hospital here, his doctor said. He was 88. A Bharat
Ratna awardee, Joshi died at Pune's Sahyadri Hospital at 8.05 a.m,
his doctor Atul Joshi said.
India's legendary Hindustani vocalist Bhimsen Joshi, who died in a
Pune hospital Monday, had left his home in Dharwad, Karnataka,
more than seven decades ago when he was only 11 to search for a
guru. But, apart from music, he had another passion -- fast cars.
Pandit Joshi, whose "Mile sur mera tumhara" along with other
artists endeared him to the entire nation, was a protagonist of
the Kirana gharana and was known for his mellifluous 'khayals' as
well as for his popular renditions of devotional 'abhangs and
bhajans'. His death at 88 truly marks an end of an era in Indian
He was conferred the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna
Born to a Kannada Brahmin family in Gadag town in northern
Karnataka, Joshi lost his mother early. He was initiated into
classical music by legendary musician Sawai Gandharva, who tutored
under one of the founders of the Kirana Gharana (school), Abdul
The musician's search for a guru is woven around an interesting
anecdote. As a child, Joshi heard a recording of Abdul Karim
Khan's 'thumri' in raga Jhinjhoti. The devotional song moved him
so much that he instantly decided to become a musician. He left
Dharwad in 1933 at the age of 11 to Bijapur to find a tutor.
It is said that Joshi went to Bijapur with money lent by
co-passengers on train. He went to Pune from Dharwad and later
enrolled at the Madhava School of Music at Gwalior.
He was helped by sarod exponent Hafiz Ali Khan. After a brief
tenure at Gwalior, he travelled in north India for three years -
and hunted for a teacher in New Delhi, Kolkata, Gwalior, Lucknow
Eventually, his father traced him to Jalandhar and brought him
back home. He decided to stay on at Dharwad, a classical music hub
home to legends like Gangubai Hangal, Mallikarjun Mansur and
Basavaraj Rajguru. He was taken in as a pupil by Rambhau
Kundgolkar alias Sawai Gandharva, a native of Dharwad to study
classical music in the 'guru-shishya' tradition. Gangubai Hangal
was a co-student.
After three years of training, he moved to Mumbai in 1943 and
debuted with HMV at the age of 22.
The musician had a fetish for driving fast cars - with a dash of
Reminisces an old fan: "While at the wheel, he used the same
technique as in singing. He ignored the possibility of danger from
bad or slippery roads, ditches, pot holes and other obstacles such
as oncoming cars and stray cattle. Only luck saved him from a
couple of grave accidents. This toned down his recklessness".
However, with years, tight schedules and fame, Bhimsen Joshi,
realised that a car after all had limitations. He began to accept
numerous invitations to far off places - he would have to be in
Kolkata one night, Delhi the next evening, Mumbai the following
day and Jalandhar immediately afterwards - and so he had to switch
to air travel.
The pilots of Indian Airlines and airport officials came across
Pandit Joshi so frequently that he was soon known as the "flying
musician of India".
Joshi's strength was his devotional music which was made of a
repertoire of Kannada, Hindi and Marathi 'bhajans' and 'abhangs'.
He playbacked for several Hindi movies like "Basant Bahar" (1956)
with Manna Dey, "Birbal by Brother" (1973) and "Ankahee" (1985).
Joshi was known for his flexible voice that allowed him to span an
enormous range of three octaves. He cornerstone was an ingenuity
in approach to his music. He could unfold unknown facets of an
ordinary raga and make it sound novel by imbuing it with subtle
Joshi founded the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival.
His first wife was his cousin, Sunanda Katti. They had four
children - two sons and two daughters. Sunanda died in 1992. Joshi
then married Vatsala Mudholkar, with whom he had two sons and one