Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Meeting Bhimsen Joshi - III

[Continued from Part II]

The next morning Mr. Mishra and I set off for the Maurya Sheraton, where Panditji was dossed up. The receptionist first refused to give us his room number (citing security reasons) and then, when we explained we had an appointment, refused to let us enter because there was a do-not-disturb sign on his door. We were about to leave in dejection, when I spotted Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar entering the hotel, accompanied by Sh. Madhup Mudgal. I naturally rushed to touch his feet. He recognised Mr. Mishra and asked him if he could help. Made abreast of the situation, he promptly invited us to his room. So the four of us, Mr. Mishra and MM on the two armchairs, me on the chair by the desk, and UK on the bed, chatted on for the better part of an hour.

[Note: For the sake of convenience, and especially as the post features several musicians worthy of the accolade 'Panditji', I shall at times make use of the South-Indian practice of referring to musicians by their initials. There is naturally no question of any disrespect meant by this; I sincerely hope none is taken either.]

By this time I had host hope of getting it autographed by BSJ, so I requested UK to sign it instead. He initially demurred, saying he couldn't sign it before Bhimsenji. I mollified him by saying if I got to meet him in the evening (there was a chance left) I'd get another copy for him to sign. He then cheerfully scrawled his name on the flyleaf, and so did MM.

At this point both MM and UK decided to meet BSJ, so we all pushed off to his room. Luckily the sign had been removed, so we went in. A few more people were present. Panditji chatted for fifteen minutes, then excused himself, saying he was tired. I went to his son and reminded him of his promised. He first asked me to come at four o'clock and then, when I said I wouldn't be able to, sugested I leave it be. My face dropped, so he took pity on me and asked me to request the big man himself. Panditji's response was, "My hands are very weak, so I can only promise to try. Let's have a go!" And he did sign!

I then turned to UK and then said I'd brought a camera but didn't have the nerve to take pics as Panditji was tired. He said no no, no problem at all, come along. So I made him stand next to Panditji and took a snap of them together. Promptly, Mr. Mishra, MM and some of the other people present there came up and requested snaps. Someone took pity on me and snapped one of mine with BSJ. We left after that. What a day!


Abhay said...

That was a good read, Abhik. I must admit to some puzzlement, though. Your description of this meeting suggests that this was the first time you were meeting BJ, and yet you had already written the biography. Did you write it without having met your subject even once?!

Abhik Majumdar said...

Thanks for the comment, Abhay :)

You're right, I did write the bio without meeting Panditji. But then I have perfectly good reasons for doing so. Rupa paid me a pittance for the book, though perhaps it is only fair to point out they wanted just a brief intro for the layperson, not an in-depth study. Whatever the reason, the money I got out of them would have barely covered even train fare and stay at a decent hotel.

Now I'm not complaining about this (after all, it's unlikely Rupa would have recouped through selling this laypersonnish intro the cost of sending me to Pune etc). At the same time, let's put it this way, I didn't see the point in spending from my own pocket for Rupa's benefit either.

Shobha said...

Very nice read!

Abhik Majumdar said...

Thanks for all your nice comments, Shobha!