Bhimsen Joshi: Always Dawn

Many years ago I had interviewed a classical musician, quite well-known. At that time he was disgruntled about several things and I clearly recall one comment he made. He said that great singing does not necessarily mean you have to contort your face so much. This was a swipe against the master of them all - Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

As I scoured the obituaries today, there has been an outpouring of so much more, but one of them mentioned how he sang with his body - for every sound and rhythm he used gestures.

More than anything, he is thankfully not being lauded for taking our culture outside or for making us 'international'. He hosted a music festival every year in Pune and that remained his base. Yet he was a repository of how Indian classical music evolved in the post-Independence era. I hope his work is archived because this is one instance where the man and his music were equally large.

I have said earlier that I saw him as more of a technician, as opposed to Kumar Gandharva. These are personal connections we feel. Therefore, I was surprised when I first heard his version of Babul Mora Naihar Chhooto Jaaye. This was a Saigal signature for me and it had made its place deep in my heart. But Panditji sang it in such a mellow fashion with different inflections that one felt the heart just well up with emotion. It is in Raag Bhairavi, a morning Raag. The soul is always awake: