Famed vocalist Kishori Amonkar is no more. And thus the world of Indian classical music finds itself poorer than ever before
If you listen to Vishnu Sahasranam sung by Kishori Amonkar you will definitely feel the eternal power it produces to soothe your body, mind and soul. Kishori Amonkar left us on April 3 evening, in utter loneliness and disbelief after a brief illness.
I somehow never had the privilege of meeting her but through past one year her voice has been echoing through the walls of my home every morning. The 97-minutes Vishnu Sahasranam Bhajan in two volumes has the power to touch one’s being. In her long and illustrious singing career spanning seven decades, she was revered as ‘Gaan-Saraswati’. Belonging to the Jaipur Gharana, she was conferred with Padma Vibhushan and so many other honours.
Amonkar stayed in a small apartment in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi. She followed her daily routine of Riyaz and teaching a group of devoted disciples until her last day. She was a widow and is survived by two sons and also grandchildren.
Kishori Amonkar loved to confine herself to the limits imposed on her by her daily chores, particularly the Riyaz and teaching her few selected students. She didn’t like to give interviews and has mostly been cold to media. She always considered interacting with media as a “waste of time because they take away important minutes from her daily Riyaz and meticulous teaching”. My many media friends tried to seek an appointment with her but she never talked to them about her music. She was of the opinion that music is not the subject which should be talked about with strangers.
Recently, Kishori Amonkar left a group of senior media persons virtually stranded outside the hotel she was staying in Delhi and at last she refused the interview that was already fixed. Yet, she had nothing against media nor did she hate media people. It was because of her own way of thinking and a steadfast refrain that “music can’t be talked all the time and with anyone”.
Born on April 10, 1932 to Madhavdas Bhatia and Mogubai Kurdikar, a well-known classical vocalist, she learnt music under Ustad Alladiya Khan Saheb and Kesarbai Kerkar.
Amonkar sang in the Jaipur gharana style with her quintessential Maharashtrian and Goan lehja or tone and manner. Her training in music began under her mother. She studied at Elphinstone College, Bombay.
Known to have acquired her own style by emphasising the emotional content of music, Amonkar imbibed the nuances of the much-revered Jaipur-Atrauli gharana.
She was a recipient of the Rashtrapati Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sangeet Samragni Award among others.
Stating that the field of Indian classical music has lost one of the most luminous stars, governor of Maharashtra CH Vidyasagar Rao in his tribute, said, “Smt Kishori Amonkar was a great vocalist gifted with a divine voice. She belonged to the small league of vocalists who took Hindustani classical music to great heights. While assiduously retaining the essence of her classical tradition, she welcomed innovative ideas. A great guru herself, Kishori Tai passed on the great knowledge she acquired through years of dedication to her disciples.”
Kishori Amonkar always remained within confines of the world of music created by her and, thus, never showed any interest in meeting big people or receiving honours and awards. It was sheer magic of her voice that is bringing rich tributes from the VVIPs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, top Bollywood personalities and virtual who’s who of people from other
walks of life ever since she breathed her last.
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