Gangubai, zestful and childlike, could also be firm. Sharma recounts that Bhimsen Joshi, having fallen on bad days brought on by alcohol abuse, was at one time barred from performing at the Sawai Gandharva festival of which she was the guiding light. But Joshi one year appeared at the festival declaring in Marathi, “I have come, and I will sing.” When he did sing, it was with such beauty that Gangubai exclaimed, “When this (expletive) sings, he really sings well!”
If Gangubai’s humility was disarming, her diminutive size took admirers by surprise when they set eyes on her for the first time. She recalled with a laugh that, before she became well known, she once travelled to Madras for a concert, where the organisers garlanded a stouter and taller woman who got off at the same station, convinced this must be the woman with those admirable vocal chords.
Take a look!