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The Other Side Of Bhimsen Joshi

Ganyarache Por” (Singer’s Son) is the Marathi title of Raghavendra Joshi’ s memoir. In English, however, it is presented as “Bhimsen Joshi, My Father,” indicating the book’s essential dilemma. It inhabits an unusual space in that it is neither the usual hagiography of the ‘authorized biography’ nor is it a mere muckrake. The Singer’s Child writes uninhibitedly about his father’s twice-married life in a warts-and-all tale. Though generally affectionate about its subject, it’s accompanied by revelation and detail.  Among the many biographies of the concerned vocalist even the most celebrated – Mohan Nadkarni’s – rarely delves into the personal space. Books like this alluded pussy-footedly to the singer’s dual marital status discreetly, usually creating the impression that after an unhappy prior relationship or even due to the death of his first wife the Pandit remarried. This book tries to undo the airbrushing and is quite candid about the mechanics of the dual household. It is unabashedly a quest for some justice for his late mother and himself for the litany of humiliation heaped on their first family by the second. The book abounds in these; from the singer’s surreptitious flight to Nagpur with his supposed pupil to the often precarious existence of the early years of his semi-abandoned family. It is even a fight for recognition as the father was sometimes ambivalent about their status. The writer is frankly envious and deeply saddened by the discrimination practiced by his father. Unfortunately, Raghavendra passed away in February 2020