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    Default Marathi music maestro passes away

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    Renowned Marathi composer and music director, Shrinivas Khale, passed away due to old age at his residence in Vasant Vihar, Thane, on Friday morning. The 85-year old, who is survived by his wife Surekha and three daughters - Shama, Sanjivani and Sonali, will certainly be remembered for the musical legacy he created.

    Felicitated with the Padmabhushan award last year, Khale has been one of the most respected musicians in the industry for over six decades.

    Shankar Mahadevan remembers his guru

    The composer, who was fondly referred to as Khale Khaka, recorded 141 bhavgeets and composed music for six Marathi films.

    He also composed music for theatrical plays like Paanigrahan and Vidushak. Although reputed for his work in Marathi, Khale also composed songs in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati and Sanskrit. Interestingly, he was the only musician who was able to get two Bharat Ratna singers - namely Lata Mangeshwar and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, to record for a Hindi bhajan album titled Ram Shyam Gungaan. Khale’s loss has been grieved by many in the state.

    Would you believe, I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with him from childhood. At age 11, I played the Veena for two of the tracks in his Bhajan album Ram Shyam Gungaan. Just ten days ago, we celebrated his 85th birthday.

    He sat in the front row listening to me trying to sing some of his compositions, smiling as he always did. That’s how I’d like to remember him. Khale Saab was in a lot of pain in his final days due to medical complications, but he continued to be the maestro of music till his last breath.

    His compositions were very difficult to sing, but still so sweet to the ears. Arrey yaar, Khale Saab’s songs are timeless. One of his compositions is worth more than 50 of my compositions. If I’ve imbibed even a shred of his genius, I’m blessed forever.

    You won’t believe this, but he’d hum his impromptu tunes to me that came to him regularly in bursts of inspiration, then he’d forget about them, knowing that they were in safe custody. He would later ask me to hum back the tunes and I’d remember it in every detail.

    I was like his son and sounding-board. Once, he suddenly asked me to perform a very intricate Natya Geet on stage because the singer who was to do the song couldn’t make it. I had no time for rehearsal or preparation. But he said, ‘You can do it.’ And I couldn’t let him down. I had trust in his faith in me.

    He has taught me so much. I learnt the value of humility from him. Whether it was a great singer or a chai wala, Khale Saab treated them equally.

    Lata Mangeshkar talks about her friend

    I just spoke to him a week back. We were supposed to do another album together. He had all the songs ready. Now he’s gone! My family and I were very close to Khale Saab. He lived very far away in Thane. He kept calling me to come home. Lekin main jaa na saki. He did two very fine Marathi albums Tukaram and Ram Shyam Gungaan with me. During that time Khale Saab used to work at HMV.

    He used to be in-charge of the Marathi section. The songs that he composed are hummed to this day. He didn’t compose for Hindi films. He was very happy to bring me and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi together in Ram Shyam Gungaan. When Khale Saab proposed an album with Pandit Joshi, I got a bit scared of singing with a classical vocalist. Khale Saab promised I wouldn’t be uncomfortable.

    When Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and I recorded the number Ram ka gun gaan kariye, Khale Saab put a wooden partition between us, so that we wouldn’t feel uncomfortable looking at each other. Meri to daal patli ho gayi tthi. Main bahut darr gayi tthi. He persuaded my composer-brother Hridaynath to sing two Marathi songs, which are popular to this day.

    Khale Saab never copied any composer. To sing his songs was very difficult for us singers. But to have another singer sing them later was out of the question. He was very outspoken. Once a singer requested Khale Saab to do an album like my Tukaram, he retorted, ‘You’re not fit to stand where Lata takes off her chappal before recording.’ In recent years, Khale Saab was in a great deal of pain. Unko bahut taqleef tthi. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease and had a heart problem.

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    Jan 2010



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