Curated by : Mandar Karanjkar
The life sketch of Pt. Mohanrao Karve, a well known and respected vocalist from Gwalior Gharana is indeed very interesting. In the life span of 90 years, he played numerous roles – from a child movie artist to a Khayal singer.
Bhalchandra Nilkanth Karve alias Mohanrao Karve was born in Pune on 16th September, 1925. His father, Nilkanth Shreedhar Karve worked with the government while his mother, Kamalabai was a amateur harmonium player. The couple took great interest in music and hence, encouraged young Mohan to start learning music at a very tender age.
Interestingly, he was the first student of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya of Pune after it was started in 1932 by Pt. Vinayakrao Patwardhan. In 1933, he was offered lead role in the movie Bhakt Prahlad by a well known film company which was followed by another role in movie Bhakta Chetaa.
As the recording technique was not available during those times, Mohanrao had to act and sing simultaneously. Songs sung by him became very popular. After performing for these films, Mohanrao left the film industry as real real passion was Khayal Sangeet.
Mohanrao was fortunate to get guidance from celebrated vocalist Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar from 1935 to 1938 and from Ramkrishnabuva Vaze from 1938 to 1943. After demise of Vazebuva, Mohanrao continued under Vazebuva’s disciples Haribhau Ghanghrekar, Dinkarpant Phatak and Pt. Shiwrambuwa Vaze (Vazebuva’s son). Mohanrao could also attend sessions where Ustad Ahmedjan Thirkawa gave Taalim to Lalji Gokhale. This exposure enhanced his sense of Taal and Lay.
Here is a full length recording of Mohanrao’s rendition of Raga Ek Nishad Bihagda from a concert at Ved Pathshala.
Mohanrao’s gayaki was a fine blend of aesthetics of Gwalior, Jaipur and Agra Gharana. His rendition of Natya Geet and Bhajans was also very well appreciated by listeners. Here is a recording from the same concert where he is singing famous Marathi Abhang Abeer Gulal Udhalit Rang.
Mohanrao was a a graded AIR artist and also a respected Guru. Some of his disciples include daughter Manjiri Alegaonkar, Leenata Vaze, Dr. Chaitanya Kunte, Urvashi Shah and Kamlabai Vijapurkar.
Pandit Mohanrao Karve passed away on 8th Jan 2015 at the age of 90.