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Saudagar Nagnath Gore 'Chhota Gandharva'
GharanaKhayal - Gwalior
Saudagar Nagnath Gore
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Bhurji Khan
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Chhota Gandharva was a renowned actor-singer of the Marathi Musical Theater. 'Saudagar Nagnath Gore' was his real name. He was entitled as 'Chhota Gandharva' and 'Swar Raaj' by music lovers with great appreciation.

He was born in a small village Bhaadale, in Satara District, Maharashtra. He started career at the age of 10, as a child prodigy actor-singer from Damuanna Joshi's 'Bal Mohan Natak Mandali'. Initially he played feminine roles in dramas such as Pran-Pratishtha, Swargawar Swari, Majha Desh, Moortimant Saitan. Later he also acted in Acharya Atre's plays such as Saashtang Namaskar, Lagnachi Bedi, Vande Mataram, etc. In 1929, he was honoured by Shankaracharya of Kolhapur with title 'Swar Kinnar', during Marathi Natya Sammelan.

He got training of vocal music under many stalwarts such as Bagalkotkar buwa, Govitrikar buwa, Narhar Patankar (all were Dev Gandharva Bhaskar buwa Bakhale's disciples), Ganeshbuwa Padhye of Dhule (for Tappa), Sawai Gandharva (Kirana Gharana) and Bhurji Khan (Jaipur Atrauli gharana). Ustad Sende Khan of Patiyala gave him training for many uncommon Ragas and rare Bandishes. He imbibed musical qualities of Bal Gandharva and Master Dinanath Mangeshkar. He also learnt Lawani from Bai Sundara Bai and Vatsala Kumthekar. He studied Thumri Dadra with keen observation of gramophone records of Gauhar Jan, Malka Jan, Maujuddin, etc.

In 1943, he left Bal Mohan Natak Mandali and founded his own 'Kala Vikas Mandali' and staged plays such as Mailacha Dagad, PhulPakhare, Guni Baale, etc. 'Dev Maanoos' was the most famous play he produced. For this play, he himself wrote lyrics of songs such as Dilruba Madhur Ha, Chaand Majha Ha Hasara, Sukhavit Ya Samsara, Chhali Jiwa Daivagati, and composed them in melodious tunes which got immense popularity. Unfortunately Kala Vikas got shunned in 1949. So from 1950, Chhota Gandharva started working on night payment basis and acted, sung in many traditional musical plays such as Saubhadra (Krishna), Manapaman (Dhairyadhar), Samshay Kallol (Ashwin Sheth), Mrichhakatik (Charudatta), Vidya Haran (Kacha), etc. In 1957, he again started his own company 'Chhota Gandharva Concerns' and his plays were a great hit. He composed music for new Sangeet Natak 'Suvarna Tulaa' (1960). His was a playback singer for Marathi films such as Patthe Bapurao, Rangalya Ratri Asha, Pudhari.

Chhota Gandharva took voluntary retirement from Marathi musical theatre in 1978, when he was at the peak of popularity and then after he concentrated on Hindustani Art music, performed in classical music concerts. He composed many Khayal compositions with pen name 'Guna Ranga'. He created several Ragas, namely Nand-Basant, Basanti-Kosh, Guni Kauns, Malati Kauns, Bhuvaneshwari, ChandraShekhar, etc. He popularized some Carnatic Ragas such as Vachaspati, Vagadhishwari, Janasammodhini, etc.

He got settled in Pune and was the President of 'Bal Gandharva Rasik Mandal' & 'Bharat Gayan Samaj' for many decades. He was awarded with Vishnudas Bhave Puraskar (1980), Sangeet Natak Academy award (1990), Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (Maharashtra Govt.). He died in Pune in 1997.
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