The highlights at the 59th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav festival this year is a movie on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and a caricature exhibition by Prabhakar Wairkar. Anurupa Dongare caught up with the duo
On-the-spot caricature for posterity
Prabhakar Wairkar is renowned in the field of art for his on-the-spot caricatures, which he says are an extension of his personality.
A caricature of Birju Maharaj by Prabhakar Wairkar
Talking about how the exhibition happened, Wairkar says, "I was surprised when I got a call from Srinvas Joshi. He saw my work at a performance and we discussed the possibility of a collaboration at the festival. I wasn't expecting much but he is a man of his word and that is how it all worked out."
A caricature of Abdul Karim Khan
For caricaturists, it is always one facial aspect that personifies the subject. We quiz Wairkar on what was that aspect in terms of Bhimsenji's image. "It was Bhimsenji's neck; when he sings, it stands out."
A caricature of Gangubai Hangal
He admits that he is happy and privileged to be a part of the exhibition. "Apart from my caricatures, two of my portraits of Panditji will also be showcased, which is a big honour," he concludes. Caricatures of Birju Maharaj and Gangubai Hangal are also on display.
Till December 11
At New English School, Raman Baug Grounds.
Capturing a maestro's life in 80 minutes
Srirang Godbole, of Indian Magic Eye Private Limited, who has created the five-part movie on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi says, "Panditji was always present at the Sawai Gandharva festival over the last few years even when he couldn't travel and was bedridden.
Srirang Godbole has made a biopic on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi
Even then, he would be brought in a car to the pandal where the performances were happening. His presence was sacred for Sawai. This is the first time that Panditji will not be present among us physically." He adds that the movie on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is an aim to recreate his presence in a small way. "We will miss his presence and nothing can fill the void."
The movie attempts to highlight parts of the maestro's life over 80 minutes through anecdotes from different people and images. It will feature clippings from his favourite dhaba in Jalandar and a special interview with his friend Ashwini Kumar (92) from Delhi.
Making a film on a maestro's life can change your perception about him and that was Godbole's experience as well. "Vinod Mehra and I directed the film. We read a lot of books and watched different films made on Bhimsenji. It enriched us to a great extent. Based on the research, we realised that it was just the tip of the iceberg. There is still so much that is not known about him and we would love to explore his life further."
When asked if the movie will be sold commercially, he said, "There are some exclusive audio-visuals that we have. So, although we have a plan to make a full-length film, we will do it eventually." The film is divided into five parts including Dhyas Parva (the early days of his life when he developed a passion for music), Guru Bhet Aani Shikshan (when he met his Guru Sawai Gandharva), Prasadik Gaans (when he discovered his love for music), Prachar Prasar (performances and recordings to promote Hindustani classical music) and Sangeet Vichar (his thoughts about music). Srinivas Joshi, Executive president, Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal says, "The film will be screened during the festival between the performances of the artists."