Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who passed away on Monday, was a rarity, a singer who gave us a balanced treat of great music, blending Hindustani and Carnatic music. I first heard him in 1972 at Hyderabad, where he performed a jugalbandhi with Balamurali Krishna. Although I was a primary school student then, I was motivated to appreciate both styles of music.
All through, I have remained a lay listener of both Carnatic and Hindustani music. Panditji was one of my favourite musicians. I first attended his concert in Sandur (Bellary district) in 1974-75 and, later, in Dharwar in the 1980s. What I liked about him was his abiding passion for his art.
His rendering of Purandaradasa's compositions, especially Bhagyadalakshmi Baramma, remains unique. Equally admirable are his renderings of typical Hindustani ragas Shudh Kalyan and Yaman, and his jugalbandis with Balamurali Krishna — a splendid confluence of both systems. One cannot miss the strange coincidence of Panditji passing away on Saint Thyagaraja's aradhana day.
Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi mesmerised music connoisseurs and the public alike with his performances. His most memorable number is the national integration song Mile Sur Mera Tumhara. His golden voice that infused life into this song, appealing to Indians to come together and stand as one nation, will remain an evergreen number.
Vinod C. Dixit,
Bhimsen Joshi will not only be remembered as a great musician but also a great human being — modest, humble and commanding respect from his contemporaries. In a recent radio programme, listeners heard Manna Dey's account of a certain incident involving the legendary singers. Music directors Shankar-Jaikishan informed Manna Dey that he would sing with Panditji in a film for Basant Bahar — for a scene involving a musical duel between courtroom musicians. Though it pleased Manna Dey, his joy was short lived when he was told that he would be singing for the hero who would eventually emerge the winner. Taken aback, he requested the directors to reverse the roles, but to no avail. After the song was recorded, he apologised to Bhimsen Joshi, much to the latter's amusement.