A fitting tribute to a special friendship

Deepa Ganesh

Bangalore: “The air is thick with emotion and there is no place for words here,” said Minister for Law Suresh Kumar releasing the book Bharatharatna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, in Bangalore on Saturday evening, organised by Rajguru Smruti and Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandali, Pune.

At the function, where each one in the packed audience brought their own memories of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the Minister recalled his meeting with the Kirana legend on July 5, 2009 at his residence in Pune, to confer on him the Karnataka Ratna Award. “Those 15to 20 minutes that I spent with him is something that I will cherish for a lifetime,” he said.

“It is a unique moment – a sort of coming together of Pandit Basavaraj Rajguru and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi,” said Nijaguna Rajguru, son of the late Gwalior maestro Basavaraj Rajguru, referring to the book release. He observed that in this two-day music festival dedicated to Rajguru, a book on Bhimsen Joshi was indeed a fitting tribute to their special friendship.

Nijaguna recalled several anecdotes; one of which took place when Rajguru was in Kolkata for a performance. Someone at his door shouted, “Rajguru, Rajguru are you there? Come on, open the door.”

When Rajguru opened the door, this gentleman at the door – who was the mythical Bhima personified, hugged and lifted Rajguru, before putting him down.

“I was aghast. It was none other than Bhimsen Joshi,” said Nijaguna, speaking of how Joshi always made sure that Rajguru had brought him his share of “undi and chakkuli”.

“When my father died in 1991, there was a fund-raiser programme in which Panditji sang. He returned the remuneration made and said ‘I have come for my dear friend. Don't belittle it with money.”