Friday, February 13, 2009

Bharat Ratna for Bhimsen Joshi

Acclaimed Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award. He has been conferred the prestigious award comprising a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President Ms. Pratibha Patil and a medallion by a senior bureaucrat. The doyen of classical singing, the affable and outgoing Pandit Bhimsen is the first recipient of the award since 2001 when it was jointly awarded to the Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar and the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan in 2001.
Long Singing Career
The 87-year-old Pandit Bhimsen is also the recipient of Padma Vibhushan (1999), Padma Bhushan (1985) and Padma Shri (1972). Bharat Ratna caps his six-decade-old singing career.
A descendant of the Kirana Gharana, Pandit Bhimsen is renowned for his khayal form of singing as well as bhajans. At the age of 11, he left his home to learn singing through the age-old guru-shishya tradition and spent three years at Gwalior, Lucknow and Rampur trying to find a good guru. In 1936, Rambhau Kundgolkar, popularly known as Sawai Gandharva, agreed to be his guru. Pandit Bhimsen’s first live performance was at the age of 19 and his debut album, containing a few songs in Kannada and Hindi, was released a year later.
Robust Style
A unifying chord Pandit Bhimsen embodies resonates from 20 years ago: the popular spots on Doordarshan produced in 1988 by the Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara and Goonje Mangal Des Rag. They had a medley of top Hindustani, Carnatic, folk and Bollywood musicians sing and play together in a year that was a cusp between a decade of militancy in Punjab and the start of militancy in Kashmir. Their theme was Indian unity and the music was unforgettable led by Pandit Bhimsen.
The world of Indian classical music thus rightly went into raptures following the conferment of Bharat Ratna on this “gem of a man, affectionate and helpful”. The legendary Kirana Gharana is known for his robust style and mellifluous voice.

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