As a two-year-old, he would fall asleep listening to Kishori Amonkar on the LP. Seeing this, his grandfather, the late Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande would smile that the child was bound to follow in his footsteps.
Classical singer and actor Rahul Deshpande, who received the National award for Best Playback singer for the film ‘Mee Vasantrao’ (2022), based on the life of his grandfather was not really inclined towards classical music during his growing up years but fell in love with Pandit Kumar Gandharva’s music style.
At the age of 12, he started training under him. “Though I did not get to interact much with my grandfather, his unique style taught me a lot too. Now my father says that much of my music is close to that of my grandfather. The film was special as it was an opportunity for me to do something for my grandfather Who did not get the recognition he deserved for his talent,” the classical singer tells IANS.
For someone who created the ‘Sangeet Natak ‘Man Apmaan’ with the intention of bringing back the culture of Sangeet Natak to the world, considering most people know ‘Natya Sangeeth’ as an art form but are not aware that it is a composition from musical plays called ‘Sangeet Natak’. He went on to conceive and create four plays out of which ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusali’ became so famous that it was adapted into a movie. “I sang in that and also ‘Bal Gandharva’,” he says.
Adding that there are different compartments to an artist’s performances and they complement each other considering a classical singer develops a base for all genres of music, he says, “I really believe that notes remain the same, only the interpretation changes according to the genre of the music.”
Also trained by Pandit Mukul Shivputra and Pandit Gangadharbuva Pimpalkhare, he feels that the ‘gayiki’ of Pandit Kumar Gandharva has influenced him to much extent. “In terms of instruments, I am inspired by Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, the great sitar player. One feels so much ease in his style.”
Deshpande, who was recently part of HCL Concert’s programme live at Nagpur feels that like this company, other corporates also need to step in and push artists. “Also, we must not forget that there is a sizeable audience in tier 2 and 3 cities too.”
Anshul Adhikari, Head, HCL Concerts adds, “We are looking at inviting talented and upcoming independent artists, spanning genres such as classical, Carnatic, folk, fusion, Sufi, qawwali, Indie-pop and regional music.”
Although the musician missed the energy of live during the lockdowns, the period introduced him to the immense reach of digital mediums. With more than 2.5 lakh subscribers on YouTube, he feels the potential of such mediums is beyond imagination. “I am glad that my team and I took the plunge. We could stay connected to the audience the entire time. As there was no other platform.”
Currently working on the ‘Vasant Utsav’ (2022-2023), where they are planning festivals across 15 plus cities in India, he is set to start another Sangeet Natak. “Also, there is a movie in the pipeline which may get released very soon. It has already been completed,” he concludes.
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