Till recently, Vasanth Bhat was a journalist doing routine city reports. One day he quit his Bangalore job and returned to his picturesque village in the heart of the Western Ghats. Hasanagi may not be the pub-style hotspot that Bangalore's upmarket newspapers rave about, but it had something that Vasanth decided was more precious: music.
Hasangi is a town made famous by his musician
father, Pandit Ganapati Bhat. Those who know Ganapati Bhat will tell
you how he was a faithful disciple of the great Pandit Basavaraj
Rajguru, and followed him wherever he travelled.
Ganapati Bhat's story is soaked in the kind of romance that music myths are made of. The owner of lush arecanut plantations was far from satisfied with his affluence: his heart led him to music, and he pursued it till he became one of the most popular Hindustani vocalists on the southern and Maharashtra concert circuits. Ganapathi Bhat, with other vocalists like Parameshwar Hegde and Nachiketa Sharma, carries forward Rajguru's musical legacy.
Vasanth has launched a music label called Gandhar Music. His first release is Monsoon Melodies (Rs 225), and it features three ragas by Ganapati Bhat -- Megh, Sur Malhar, Jayat Malhar. He has been shuttling between Bangalore and Hasanagi, an overnight's journey, and is pleasantly surprised at the response Gandhar Music's first album has received.
On a larger canvas, Vasanth is busy with the blueprint
for a music academy in Hasanagi. He has been working with musicians and music lovers to set up a gurukula that will enable youngsters to learn from his father. A library and archives are part of the project, and he hopes it will all come through in about a year.
Vasanth explains why he returned to his roots:
How did you arrive at the idea of starting a music label and an academy?
I was brought up with music around me, thanks to my father. We live in a remote village called Hasanagi in the northern part of Karnataka. The pleasant and peaceful life, amidst forests, naturally enriched by imagination and I was attracted towards music and literature. After
completing my SSLC in my village, I went to Dharwad, as my father had done 25 years
before, for my college education. I completed my graduation in English literature
and did a master's course in mass communication and journalism. For a couple of
years, I taught journalism in a college and then went into mainstream journalism. But within a short time, I found life becoming mechanical. I was more attracted to music than before. I started learning vocal music. This prompted me to think of going back to my father and becoming a dedicated shishya.
One morning when I was doing my riyaz, the music academy idea occurred to me. My
father has made a remarkable contribution to classical music in our region, where there was no music 35 years ago. It is because of him that thousands of people have started listening to music here. So I though it would be right to name the academy after him. Dreams are always beautiful. But realising them is very difficult. Begging people or the government will not serve my purpose. So I started
thinking of a way to continue my musical activities. The idea of launching a recording company was born in my mind a year ago.
Why are you moving away from journalism and into music business?
Simple, love of music and my roots. My father is a great inspiration because he grew so tall though he lived in an obscure village. Today, in the age of information explosion, it is not important
where you live. I decided to continue the trend set by my father and to carry out musical activities in this region.
Who distributes your music? Where can music lovers buy your titles?
I'll do it myself in Karnataka. In Maharashtra and other parts of India and abroad, our
experienced friend Mr Sudhir Nirgudkar, who is an ardent music lover. He has joined hands with me.
What is special about Gandhar Music?
'Gandhar' means the 'ga' note. It reflects 'confidence and stability' in the octave. My emblem reveals Ganapati, who is considered the god of music. Gandhar Music will contribute quality classical from eminent artists in India. I am sure that we are going to introduce many young talents. All the revenue will be spent on the promotion of music.
Where do you hope to sell your music the most?
Wherever there are classical music lovers. You may be surprised to know the number of cassettes I sold within a week in my Uttara Kannada district. Karnataka is increasingly becoming a market for Hindustani classical music. I am sure Maharastra and M.P. are more concentrated markets, and also USA, Germany, France and Dubai which are the main markets for Indian classical music.
What sort of music do you like?
I like classical music and have listened to almost all big artistes in India. I also like bhajans, thumris and romantic songs. I compose light music and am learning classical music under my father. I learnt the tabla for six years.
Where do you plan to record music for your label?
We plan to record music in our village. A very good sound engineer, Ramanna, has set up a studio here. We are going to modernise the studio shortly and do all work possible here.
Where to go for Gandhar Music titles:
Yellapur 581 347
Uttara Kananda District
Swara Mandar Musicals Pvt Ltd
(A venture of Nirgudkar Foundation)
1/736 A, Ratnajyothi, Parsi Colony
Round 4, Dadar, Mumbai 400 014.
Posted on 26
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