Bhimsen Joshi, well-acclaimed classical singer of Kirana Gharana, passed away yesterday, on Jan 24th 2011, at the age of 89 years.
I first heard Bhimsen Joshi, at the IIT Mood Indigo annual celebrations ( starting at late nights extending to wee hours of early mornings) at Powai campus, Mumbai. I was about 19 years old then. I did not know much about classical music even then; but, Bhimsen’s violent gestures and body movements attracted my attention compelling me to sit through his musical ‘notes’ display. I used to enjoy the ambiance his music created for my eyes and ears!! Though, I used to wonder many a time, what is he up to?
Bhimsen’s gestures reflected, visually, everything he was doing with his voice. He sawed the air, chopped up the ground, looked like ‘flying a kite’ with his gestures, plucked ‘musical’ notes out of nowhere to root them firmly on the ground (on the stage, to be precise) and at times, bent his head so low that he touched the ground on the stage! Then, suddenly he would raise his head all at once, with mouth wide open in a painful grimace, struggling to keep pace with the march of his vocal strings. His voice was resonant, mesmerizing the student audience that swung to action with their faces, trying to emulate his gestures in admiration. Really, I cannot comment how many among the audience, knew the finesse of Bhairavi Raga and Thumri – which Bhimsen had mastered.
Bhimsen was probably the last of the Kirana Gharana and he presented the important feature of Kirana Gharana – i.e., ’emotive appeal’.