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Mohanrao Karve
GharanaKhayal - GwaliorMohanrao Karve
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Krishnarao Phulambrikar 'Krishnadas'
Ramkrishnabua Vaze
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Pandit Mohanrao Karve was one of the respected names in Hindustani Art Music. Bhalchandra Nilakantha Karve alias Master Mohan was born in Pune on Sept 16th 1925 in the family of Nilakanth Shreedhar Karve & Kamalabai Karve. Till 1930, he was groomed under grandparents in Mumbai. In 1031, he came back to his parents in Pune. From childhood, he had a keen interest in music. His mother was an amateur harmonium player. His parents inspired & encouraged him for music. At his tender age, for learning vocal music he joined the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a well-known music institute in Pune established in 1932 by Pandit Vinayakrao Patwardhan (Gwalior Gharana). He was the first student to get registered in the Gandharva Mahavidyala, Pune. He also started learning Tabla under Shri Puranik.

In 1933, he was offered a main role in the movie 'Bhakta Prahlad' by Saraswati Cine-tone, a renowed film company. Film director Dadasaheb Torne gave him a screen-name 'Master Mohan' and after this, he is known as 'Mohan Karve'. In that era, there was no technique of playback singing, but the actor was to sing & act simultaneously. Annasaheb Mainkar was the music director of this film. Master Mohan played the role of 'Bhakta Prahlad' very well; his songs in the film became very popular & well received by music lovers. On June 7, 1934 he was felicitated by famous political figure, N. C. Kelkar for the achievement. He also acted in Hindi Film 'Bhakta Chetaa' under the same banner in 1934. But after these two successful movies, he left the film industry because his real passion was to learn Khayal Gayaki.

In the period 1935 to 38, Mohan Karve got musical mentoring by the celebrated singer-composer Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar (disciple of Pandit Bhaskarbuwa Bakhale, Gwalior-Agra-Jaipur Gharana) and in these 4 years, he was strongly impressed by this remarkable performer's rendering of a Raga. In the same period, Mohan Karve was fortunate to witness the instruction of Tabla given to Lalaji Gokhale under Tabla maestro Ust. Ahmadjan Thirkawa. Due to this, he developed the deep sense for Laya & Tala.

From 1938 to 1943, Mohan Karve was blessed to receive training under Gayanacharya Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze (Gwalior Gharana) & after this his death, Mohanrao continued under Vazebuwa's disciple Haribhau Ghanghrekar. Mohanrao also got sporadic training from Dinkarpant Phatak (Vazebuwa's disciple) and Pt. Shiwrambuwa Vaze (Vazebuwa's son).

He also received intensive training in music under Pandit Baburao Phadke, Babanrao Kulkarni and Bhave Buwa from 1945 onwards. In 1952, he completed 'Sangeet Alankar' and during this course work, he also got some advice from Pt. Mirashibuwa for 2-3 Khayal compositions. After listening to his AIR broadcast in 1955, Master Manhar Barve (Gwalior Gharana) offered him and Mohanrao was coached under him during 1956 to 1960.

In those years, Ravivar Mandal (Sunday Club) formed by a connoisseur Ganukaka Kaatre was a prestigious music club in Pune. Many renowned artists used to perform in this club whole-heartedly, without any monitory expectations and this club was a hub of musical exchange in Pune. Some of the artists who used to visit and perform this club were Mirashibuwa, Keshavbuwa Ingle, Bal Gandharva, Ahmedjan Thirakwa, Sureshbabu Mane, Jagannathbuwa Purohit, Nivruttibua Sarnaik, Mallikarjun Mansoor, Kumar Gandharva, Ram Marathe, Rambhau Gulavni, Balkrishna Wadikar, D V Kane, Bhargawram Achrekar, etc. Mohanrao also was a regular performer of the Sunday club. In this club, he got opportunities to share music with all these artists and also got the guidelines for theory of Raga from Prof B R Deodhar.

From 1973 to 80, he learnt some attractive compositions from NavneetBhai Patel (Patiala Gharana). Vamanrao Deshpande (disciple of Pt. Sureshbabu Mane & Gaantapaswini Mogubai Kurdikar) shared some compositions of Jaipur Gharana with him during 1981 to 1991.

Pt. Mohan Karve had a large repertoire of Ragas and rare Bandishes from various Gharanas. He use to give a colorful performance with the apt rendering of various Khayal-s in Gwalior, Jaipur, Agra gharana Gayaki, with displaying the stylistic nuances of Vazebuwa, Master Krishna, Manhar Barve, Phadkebuwa. He also used to render Bhajans and Natyageet-s with the musical stamp of BalGandharwa and Master Krishnarao.

During the last broadcast recording of Vazebuwa on Mumbai Radio, Mohan Karve accompanied with him and then Vazebuwa asked the station director Z H Bukhari to have an audition of Mohan Karve. Then onwards for 59 years, from 1945 to 2004 Mohan Karve has performed on AIR. In 1958, he performed in AIR Delhi for national program of music.

Mohanrao was also a devoted teacher of Hindustani music. Along with his daughter Manjiri Alegaonkar, he trained many disciples such as Kamlabai Vijapurkar, Jyotsna Cholkar, Leenata Vaze, Varsha Tendulkar, Priyal Sathe, Patanjali Maduskar, Chandrashekhar Mahajan, Krishna Joshi, Anand Parkhi, Chaitanya Kunte, etc.

In spite of being a graduate from Pune University & a vocalist, he had to run his family business for livelihood. But music remained his first love & passion. He never compromised himself with music and never complained for his profession, also. He is a very modest, loving and down to earth person.

For his long service in the music field, he was felicitated with some awards & felicitations, such as Pt. Jasraj Mitra Mandal Puraskar (1996), Kalashree Puraskar (1997), Vivekananda Puraskar (1999), Abasaheb Mujumdar Puraskar (2000, Pune Bharat Gayan Samaj, at the hands of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and in presence of music director Naushad), felicitation at Dewal Club, Kolhapur at the hands of Ust. Azizuddin Khan Baba (2005), Vishnu Digambar Puraskar by Gandarva Mahavidyalaya (2007), Felicitation as a Senior Artist by Pune Corporation (2007), Rishitulya Kalakar felicitation by SharadaPeetham, Pune (2007), felicitation by Dr. Prabha Atre Foundation (2008). SwarSmriti, a memoire of Pandit Mohan Karve's life and music with a CD of concert recordings was released by Pandit Bhai Gaitonde in 2011.

At the age of 90, he passed away due to old age on Thursday, 8th Jan. 2015 at Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital, Pune.

- written by Chaitanya Kunte
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