Bhimsen: some personal reflections

Like MS, Bhimsen is also a musician from my childhood, and is probably the only Hindustani musician that I heard growing up. In those days, my grandfather will switch on AIR at around 5:45 am and listen to Vandemataram, followed by some Nadaswaram instrumental music, followed by the 6:05 news bulletin, followed by a programme in Bangalore AIR called Geetaraadhana. In Geetaraadhana, once in a while, depending on whether it was Monday or Thursday or Friday, one got to hear Bhimsen singing Kailaasha Vaasa or Thunga Theeradhi or Bhagyadha Lakshmi. Bhimsen sang Bhagyada Lakshmi baaramma with much stretchings unlike the corresponding carnatic version; my father always felt that such stretchings made the music sound very sad and depressing rather than happy; in spite of his comments, we all listened to and liked listening to Bhimsen.

Later,  I got to hear Hindustani musicians like Mallikarjun and Kumar Gandharva and got moved by their music. During this period I also listened to Bhimsen’s Hindustani pieces. Though I liked (and found some of his pieces to be meditative at times — one Hamsadhwani of his at least that I remember), I always found his music touching me when he sang daasara padagalu. Of these three musicians, Bhimsen is the only one I have heard live — in Bangalore’s Ambedkar Bhavan. He sang only Daasara Padagalu. In spite of being told that the master has lost the magic in his voice, his bhava laden music still touched me. And, much later I learnt that Bhimsen’s voice was thanks to his hard work and relentless practice.

My daughter became a fan of Bhimsen’s Deva Bandha and when she was about an year old and she used to jump and dance whenever she heard that song. I was happy to see the musician that entertained my grandfather’s and father’s generation, liked by me, also being liked by my daughter. And, Bhimsen will continue to be just that for me — a musician who sang soulful devaranamas that touched one’s heart.

I played his Guru Vandane CD this evening on coming back from the office. I look forward to many more such evenings! Aren’t we lucky to be living in this age when a musician might pass away, but his singing never does?

One Response to “Bhimsen: some personal reflections”

  1. raj Says:

    Lovely tribute, Guru. I particularly liked the last line. You’ve ended on a positive note, when many others keep coming up with cliches, ” It is an irreparable loss”, ” a vacuum that can’t be filled”, ” music will never be the same again”, etc.

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