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Prabhakar Jog’s incomparable mastery in rendering ‘song violin’ to film music will endure

Prabhakar Jog's incomparable mastery in rendering 'song violin' to film music will endure

Prabhakar Jog, known to today’s generation as the “gaanara violin” composer, passed away in Pune yesterday. Released in 2003, the series of Marathi bhava songs rendered by him on his violin had an instant connect with a younger generation of listeners, many of whom flocked to take violin lessons from him after hearing his music.

Maihar Gharana sarodist, Pune-based Dr Anupam Joshi shares: “Such was the impact of that CD, that I searched and heard each of the 20 numbers in their original form! It really connected an entire generation of even overseas US-based Maharashtrians with their musical roots.”

Jog sahib’s connection with the violin was from an early age; he learnt from Gwalior/Agra/Jaipur Gharana doyen Pt Gajananrao Joshi for a few years too, but later due to financial constraints took to a career as an orchestra musician, and later emerged as a prolific, popular composer in the Hindi and Marathi film world.

An old associate from those early struggling years, was late Anna Joshi, who used to play the tabla for film scores; both friends moved to Mumbai around the same time to pursue their careers. Anna ji’s son, tabla artist Shashank Joshi recalls his association with the violinist: “He was the amongst the first in his generation to play the ‘song violin’ which was used as a guide by most playback singers, to get every nuance of the song. Very few violinists were able to do this; it used to be a very specific, very important aspect of any song recording. Insaan ke gale ka swar, saaz pe pehle nikaalna bahut kathin kaam that (To reproduce human voice frequencies on a musical instrument was a very difficult task); Jog saab was a master.”

Madan Mohan had had him play for several songs. No wonder even Nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar mourned his loss on Twitter. Noted music composer Salil Kulkarni recalled how the greats of that era, including Mangeshkar, used to welcome his presence as a song violinist at song recordings. Kulkarni remembers the violinist fondly, saying “he blessed us — a younger generation of music composers.”

Famed playback singer Kavita Krishnamurty recalls fondly of Jog as a “very dignified and sweet person”. “I would go through the song with him before my mic rehearsals and he was very encouraging when I started out as a new singer. May his soul rest in peace,” she says.

“I felt so sad to hear about his passing away. He has played so many songs in my recordings with different music directors. Those days when we sang live, we had the song violin to assist us with our pitching and melody. He was one of the finest players who would play every nuance and with such ease,” adds Krishnamurthy.

Continuing his memories, 58-year-old Shashank Joshi shared: “Of course I was much younger, and not in his league at all, but we worked together during the making of Hum Aapke Hain Koun; for around 15 days we used to be together recording for hours, and used to eat our lunch together in the studio. He was a reserved man, taciturn with strangers, but had great wisdom to give those of us who were privileged to know him.”

Joshi further mentions the three main lessons he picked up from Jog: punctuality, the importance of never presenting a piece unless one has mastered its rendition, and maintenance of one’s instrument. “They seem small things, but actually are invaluable.”

Of Jog’s legacy, noted violinist Ramakant Paranjpe says, “He had a very sweet hand and was very sureela (tuneful). He was very respected in the industry and headed the CMA (association of musicians) for years.”

The rare photo was taken during a performance of the Geet Ramayana, in the presence of Veer Savarkar, in Pune in the mid-1950s. On the tabla is Anna Joshi, on the violin Prabhakar Jog and vocals by Pt Shridhar Phadke. Photo credit: Shashank Joshi

Going down memory lane, Shridhar Phadke recalls how his father Pt Sudhir Phadke (known in the world of music as ‘Babuji’) had first heard Prakhakar Jog play at SP College in Pune in 1952, and had invited him to Mumbai to join his orchestra, where he remained as assistant music director for years. The immortally popular Geet Ramayana songs, 56 in number, were composed and rendered initially in 1955. Subsequently, several hundred live shows were held all over Maharashtra, over the decades.

Shridhar says, “Initially Prabhakar kaka (I always called him kaka [uncle]) was present in each show, later due to work, he had to miss the live shows.” He also recalls how adept Jog was at note notations; not only was he incredibly fast, but totally accurate too.

Remembered fondly by everyone in the world of film music, Prabhakar Jog’s demise is a great loss.

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