Pt. Bhimsen Joshi

'Mile sur mera tumhara', an enchanting number sung by India's most acclaimed vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, a few years ago became the country's second national anthem. One among the millions of songs rendered by this musical marvel.

A doyen of the Kirana Gharana and student of Pt. Sawai Gandharva, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi was crazy about music from a very young age. He neglected his studies and tended to spend hours listening to music, much to the disapproval of his father. He ran away from home and enrolled himself in a music school at Gwalior. Many gurus in Gwalior, Lucknow, Jalandhar and Rampur trained him. But, the most influential tutor of this exceptional voice was that of Pt. Sawai Ghandarva from the Kirana Gharana who lived near Pt. Joshi's hometown in the south of India. This united him with his family and father who had by that time learnt to appreciate his son's interests and talents. Incidentally, his father later wrote a book describing his son's life and musical career.

His natural tuneful voice that could flit from octave to octave effortlessly charmed the entire country by the early 50s. He began singing devotional songs (bhajans) composed by well-known poets from the south of India. After he made a mark as a classical singer he began to globetrot extensively. He developed a passion for automobiles and driving during this phase.

His songs elucidate the characteristics of his parent gharana, accurate and systematic delivery of ragas, an elaborate alap accompanied by a wide range of adornments (taans). His performances are natural and resplendent with his singing moving from one pitch to another in the same breath thereupon displaying immense physical endurance. He sings in the khayal style and has rendered heavenly thumris and bhajans like Piya milan ki aas and Jo bhaje hari ko sada. His improvisations and combination of ragas consummated in new ragas like the Kalashri (Kalavati and Rageshri) and LalitBhatiyar (Lalit and Bhatiyar ragas).

Listening to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and the unpredictable twists and turn of his voice cause both suspense and delight turning out to be an incredibly divine experience. The singer, who is way past his sixties now, has reached the retirement stage of his career. His songs and compositions will be savored and cherished to serve as inspirations for artists to come. Bhimsen Joshi, who is riding the crest of popularity for the last several years, is a musical genius noted for his extraordinarily rich and sonorous voice. He is one of the most popular and respected names in contemporary music. His singing invariably provides listeners with a divine musical experience. He was born in 1922, into a Brahmin family in Gadag, Karnataka. He was trained from a very early age by several gurus in Gwalior, Lucknow, Jalandhar and Rampur. However it was the association with Sawai Gandharva of the Kirana Gharana that struck the key note of his musical career. Bhimsen's classical singing has mass appeal. Bhimsen a versatile khayal singer belonging to the Kirana Gharana and is also adept in the presentation of thumris, bhajans and songs from plays. Bhimsen Joshi has created a number of ragas and raginis and also composed music for musical plays. His lilting thumris and his innumerable popular Abhangs composed by the saints of Maharashtra point towards his total command over his field. He was honoured with the Padma Shri and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1975).