Classical singer Rahul Deshpande to perform devotional songs in Mumbai

Take a dip in the rapturous depths of Bhakti sangeet at Abhangwari as Pune-based classical singer Rahul Deshpande brings his tuneful prayers to Mumbai

Classical singer Rahul Deshpande to perform devotional songs in Mumbai

The singer and his team performing abhangas at Dombivli. Pics/Sameer Markande

This writer always associated continuity with scenes from a motion picture, with mathematics, seasons and consequences. Little did she think that her hopes and prayers pitched into the universe in hushed voices are ceaseless and unrelenting. An abhang, where bhang means a break in Sanskrit, is also an unending invocation of Lord Vitthal — the Hindu god who is believed to manifest the powers of Vishnu and Krishna. The deity, also known as Vithoba, is a prominent figure in the non-ritualistic Varkari faith of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Abhangwari, an evening concert organised by Vasantrao Deshpande Pratishthan and conceptualised by musician Rahul Deshpande, is set to mark a first in the city. “It was conceived on the ethos of Ashadhi Ekadashi, which was observed on July 10. We performed these compositions at a Dombivli venue on that day. The upcoming recital is special as it will be my first solo performance in Mumbai,” the singer shares. He chirps that this time, they will heighten the 800-year old tradition of abhangs with a few original compositions.

Rahul Deshpande
Rahul Deshpande

Deshpande, who recently toured Europe with Vasantotsav, acknowledges the hardships that performing artistes have faced in the last two years. He credits social media for bringing people closer: “My work is mostly appreciated in Maharashtra. During the pandemic, I started putting out content that touched my heart. The Internet helped me reach audiences outside the state and the country. Many students in Europe who don’t speak or follow Marathi said they find my music comforting.” Deshpande also upholds that social media platforms have invited youth participation in Indian classical music. He adds, “I reckon the youth try to relate to the performer, too. One of my purely classical concerts witnessed a 60 per cent attendance from young listeners.”

The show, compered by kathak dancer Sharvari Jamenis, will also be a tribute to late singing prodigy Lata Mangeshkar. Deshpande says, “Lata ji had popularised this genre of devotional songs. I will be singing old compositions by her and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. I will also sing songs that I have composed for a film titled Me Vasantrao.” While discussing the universal nature of music that successfully dismantles divides each time, the classical musician mentions an abhang that’s particularly close to his heart — Kannada Raja Pandaricha. He started presenting his rendition of the song when he was in college, and it is still popular among his listeners. “I think I have a way of performing it that’s very different from the film version. People like it a lot. This one time, I was in Shimla and nobody in the audience understood Marathi, but they kept requesting for Kannada Raja Pandaricha,” he signs off.

On: July 23, 6.30 pm
At: Shanmukhananda Hall, behind Gandhi Market, Sion. 
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Cost: Rs 350 onwards