Bhimsen Joshi: RIP

I understand Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passed away (thanks to a note from Hariharan on Google buzz). I would like to (re-)share this story from one of my earlier posts:

On this occasion, after Bhimsen Joshi finished his recital, Pahadi Sanyal asked for the name of the last raga sung by him. Bhimsen came over and touched Pahadi Sanyal’s feet and said, ‘Isko Chayya kahke seekha hamney (I learnt it as Chayya).’ The confusion in our minds was due to Bhimsen dwelling on the nishad in the ascending scale, which neither Pahadikaka nor myself had ever heard in Chhaya or Chhayanat. Fifty years ago, Bhimsen was a young musician who had already made a mark in Calcutta while Pahadi Sanyal was a well known aging film star. That Bhimsen touched Pahadi Sanyal’s feet was not particularly unexpected but noticing the embarrassment on Pahadi Sanyal’s face he said, ” I don’t think you have spotted me, Sahab, I am the same Bhimsen who came to you for training when you lived in Raja Basant Roy Road.’

‘Good lord!’ said Pahadikaka after the usual pleasantries were over and Bhimsen left us. ‘I can’t believe it is the same boy. He came to me all the way from Poona to learn music. He had a voice like a buffalo calf with cold. I told him he had no future as a singer but I might be able to find him a petty job in the New Theatres Studio. He lived in my house for a while. I would pay him a tenner or two for running errands and then he suddenly disappeared one day. Good heavens! Astafullah! How can this man be the same Bhimsen?’

Ram Guha once said that in this country only two sets of people try for greatness — sportsmen and musicians, and probably only the later achieve it. Bhimsen is certainly one of those who achieved it, as is clear from the story above.


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