Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande: A Gifted Classical Vocalist

DrVasantrao Deshpande was well-known for his Hindustani classical singing in addition to his exclusive presentation of Natya Sangeet.

In the year 1920, Vasantrao was born in small village of Sawlapur (District Amravati, Maharashtra). When he was just eight years old, a famous Marathi film producer and director Bhalji Pendharkar acknowledged his musical talent and familiarized him in the role of ‘Krishna’ in Hindi movie ‘Kaliyamardan’.

Thereafter, he had his musical training under guidance of several gurus. He started his musical training in Nagpur under Shankarrao Sapre, a disciple of Vishnu DigambarPaluskar. Subsequently, he received direction from Aman Ali Khan and Anjani Bai Malpekar of BhendiBazaar Gharana, Suresh Babu Mane of Kirana Gharana, Asad Ali Khan of Patiala Gharana and RamkrishnabuwaVaze of Gwalior Gharana. 

Though, he had grooming of Hindustani classical musicfrom all these gurus, yet Dinanath Mangeshkar left the most noteworthy influence on him. Thus, Vasantrao was the one and only precise successor of Dinanath’s singing. Hence, considering such a background of expert gurus, Vasantrao always disallowed to be under the guidance of a specific school of singing.
Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande was also a philosopher and so bearing in mind the resonance-throw-range and communicative aptitude of his voice, he formed his own style. He never believed in imitation. He had a matchless skill in both classical and semi-classical signing. Along with vocal singing, he also had an adept talent as a tabla and harmonium player. Further, the sargam was his main speciality. His raga presentation had such a profundity of quality that always left people enchanted. Raga ‘Raj Kalyan’, which is the variation of Yaman with no ‘Pancham’ was his creation.

Likewise, Thumri, Dadra and Ghazal genre of Hindustani Classical Music were also his field of expertise. When Vasantrao was studying in Lahore, he had mastered the original practice of the ‘thumri’ and ‘ghazal’. Here, he learnt Urdu that soon after promoted him in his ghazal recitations.

‘Marathi Natya Sangeet’ was a further musical quarter, wherein he left his amazing influence. ‘Megh Malhar’ ,‘Katyaar Kaaljaat Ghusli’, ‘‘Vij Mhanali Dhartila’, ‘Tukaram, He Bandha Reshmache’ and ‘Varyawarchi Varaat’ are one of the best plays to highlight his acting performance. With his strong playback to more than 80 Marathi films, he even acted in movies like ‘Ashtavinayak’ ‘Kaaliya Mardan’, ‘Dudh Bhaat’, to name a few.

Moreover, Dr. Vasantrao presented his masterpiece, “Marathi Natya Sangeeta Chi Vaatchaal” (the development of music in Marathi Musical plays), which was basically the history of Marathi Music-plays.
Vasantrao Deshpande obtained a PhD in ‘The Revolution of Hindustani Classical Music’ and held talk shows on music, with live demonstrations in a number of educational institutions.

Dr. Vasantrao had many profitable music releases, which put on view the depth of his knowledge with reference to music.
Today, Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande Pratishthan in Pune, arranges a 3-day music festival in his remembrance, titled ‘Vasantotsav’ every year in January. During the carnival, two awards-the ‘Vasantotsav Youth Award’ for brilliant young artists and ‘Vasantotsav Award’ for senior artists are bestowed.

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