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Author: Mohan Nadkarni
Translator(s): Surendar Gupta
Publisher: National Book Trust
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8123705565
Translated into Hindi, this work does not purport to be a biography in the strictly conventional sense of the term, but a modest attempt to evaluate the contribution of Bal Gandharva to the enrichment of the tradition of Marathi musical drama in particular and Indian music in general.
BAL GANDHARVA (1888-1967) who reigned supreme in in the world of the Marathi musical drama for almost half a century, was born as Narayan shripad Rajhans in a middle-class Brahmin family. Endowed with a melodious voice and handsome looks, Bal Gandharva joined the Kirloskar Natak Mandali at the age of 17 to sing and play the female role in the Marathi version of the old Sankrit classic, Shakuntala .
In 1913, he established his own troupe the Gandharva Natak Mandali, and staged a wide variety of plays which included the old classics and the new contemporary themes. With advancing age, he took to giving extempore recitals of devotional and popular stage songs. Official recognition came to this unanimously acclaimed Nat samrat after 1944, when he was elected president of the Marathi Natya Shatabadi Sammelan.
In 1955 he was given the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award and in 1964 he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. Incapacitated by paralysis since 1952, this uncrowned monarch of Marathi musical theatre died at the age of 79, in distress and penury.