The third part of our series on Kirana gharana, in which
we examine the role played by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi in his
gharana, as well as in the world of Hindustani music at large.

KIRANA, a vast gharana, has had so many musicians in the last one and a half century or so, that it goes to the credit of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi for having left behind one of the strongest stamps of his personality in the name of his school of singing. But this is where the dialectic beginshe left behind a personalized style more than a gharana style, moulding the tenets of gayaki or style to his own needs as a performer, as a result of which he startedinadvertently, of course-- an era that undermined the gharana system itself --for the first time in its two and a half centuries of brilliant history. For, with it, his style has shown the door to the passionate old sense of gharana-consciousness in the new generation of musicians.

Panditji inherited and worked on the style of his guru, Pandit Sawai Gandharva, disciple of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan Saheb, who himself came from a Marathi Natya Sangeet background. His style was a 'madhya laya drut', which means to say that it veered towards the fast tempo in the so-called madhya laya or middle-tempo singing. This is very important, because these are the only musical roots of the Bhimsen style. And yet, with the changing face and form of the khayal in his own timesUstad Amir Khan Saheb of the Indore gharana had sung such a new and brilliant gayaki just before him-- the challenge before Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was to further evolve the gayaki of his guru and grand-guru from the old madhya laya format.
How did this middle-tempo style turn into a vilambit or slow as well as a drut or fast style? The answer is simple. There was heavy borrowing from Ustad Amir Khan Saheb-- in the vilambit singing, to begin with. Being a simple man, Bhimsenji unabashedly acknowledged this, and sang a host of compositions made popular by Ustad Amir Khan, as well. In interview after interview he would say that you must take and sing whatever you liked from whoever you liked, and that he saw no compulsion for restrictions in the matter of gharanas at all.

As his style developed, his Maratha physique, reflected also in the particular musculature of his voice, also projected a highly dramatic way of singing. As he sang, his body language, too, became excessively dramatic; he would locate his swaras in the air, grab them, and throw them back into the air, much to the amusement of the listeners, who 'saw' or could 'visualize' the music as it was being sung as well.More on asiamagazines dot org