A Rare Gem of Classical Music
Late Pandit Dinkarrao alias Bhaiyasaheb Deshpande was one of the treasured personalities and a father figure in the fraternity of Indian Classical Music. He was a devoted artist of Kirana Gharana.
Born on March 15, 1920, Dinkarrao took his primary lessons of music under the guidance of his father Late Shree Shankarrao Deshpande, a prominent tabla player and also a Classical Music teacher. He was regarded as Sawai Shankarrao in the region. His place would often host gatherings of maestros like Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, Pt. Maniram Katthak, Pta. Hirabai Badodekar and the likes. He accompanied them on Tabla in most of the concerts organised in Amravati.
Pt. Dinkarrao Deshpande in a concert.
Such a musically conducive atmosphere at home certainly left deep impression on the tender heart of Dinkarrao. Soon, his father sent him to Amravati for receiving formal primary education in music from Pt. Dattaji Tawade for a couple of years. At the age of 12, Dinkarrao was sufficiently flourished and started giving independent performances. He also gained mastery in playing Harmonium and Tabla by the age of 16. He got an opportunity to accompany Master Dinanath Mangeshkar on Harmonium when he was just 18 years old.
This was the time when his father thought of sending him to a Guru and suggested Dinkarrao to approach Pandit Jagannathbua Pandharpurkar, a celebrated artist from the City of Pandharpur for advanced training in Gwalior Gharana. Dinkarrao took lessons from Pandharpurkarbua though it lasted for short period of 4-5 months. In the course of learning, he realised that his voice was more suitable for the Kirana Gharana gayaki. He discussed this with his Guru and with his wholehearted support; Dinkarrao thereafter followed the gayaki of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan Saheb.
Earlier, around the year 1942 after his graduation, he had joined the Indian Railways at Mumbai at the insistence of a close friend Late. Shree Vidyadhar Gokhale. During this stay, he was a regular performer at All India Radio, Mumbai and often performed concerts in the city. However, after couple of years he had to leave Mumbai owing to health reasons and joined a school in Akola as a teacher. He later worked at Shree Samarth High School in Amravati. He was an MA (Music) with first class first having won many Gold Medals from the Nagpur University. He settled in Amravati where his musical career flourished in real sense.
Dinkarrao performed across the many musical centres in Maharashtra and in cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ranchi, Raipur, Bilaspur, Jamshetpur etc. He also performed at the Sawai Gandharva Smruti Samaroh at Pune in 1971.
He was an A-Grade artist of the All India Radio and performed there for more than 50 years. His short recordings of Raag Bhoop and Nand are very popular which are occasionally played by Vividh Bharti in its Swar Sudha and Sangeet Sarita programmes. He sang wide range of Raagas like Abhogi, Marubihag, Malkauns, Bageshri Kanada, Shuddha Kalyan, Nand, Miyan Ki Todi, Lalit, Bhatiyar, Jaunpuri, Ramkali, Bhairavi which are applauded by the music lovers even now.
His Natyapad ‘Chandrika Hi Janu’ is a unique blend of Raagdari and Natya sangeet. He was instrumental in forming a prestigious Music Circle at Amravati viz: Amravati Sangeet Kalopasak Sabha in the year 1955 with the support of local artists and music lovers, which continues to flourish even today.
At the end of a performance at Hyderabad, Ustad Nisar Hussain Khan came on the stage, hugged Dinkarrao and said “ऐसा सुरीलापन, ऐसी सुरेल गायकी बहोत कम सुननेको मिलती है”! Likewise at another Sangeet Samaroha in Mumbai, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan appreciated Dinkarrao’s performance and said that he had never heard such a wonderful Abhogi ever before.
Such anecdotes are enough to speak of the heights Pandit Dinkarrao Deshpande had achieved in music. Despite all the popularity, he was always a humble artist. He was truly a Vidarbhian successor of Kirana Gharana. He breathed his last at the age of 92 on 20th August 2011 at Amravati.
We are currently celebrating his birth centenary (2020-21).
Written by: Shivadatta Deshpande, Gajanan Deshpande and Anand Deshpande