Shobha Gurtu (Hindi: शोभा गुर्टू) (1925 – 2004) was one of India’s most famous singers in the light Hindustani classical style. Though she had equal command over pure classical style, it was with light classical music that she received her fame, and in time came to be known as the Thumri Queen , and for the ‘Abhinaya’ ang in her full-throated voice. Bhanumati Shirodkar was born in Belgaum, (present Karnataka) in 1925, she was first trained by her mother Menekabai Shirodkar, a professional dancer, and a ‘gayaki’ disciple of Ustad Alladiya Khan of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana.
hough her formal music training began with ‘Ustad Bhurji Khan’, the youngest son of Ustad Alladiya Khan, the founder of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana in Kolhapur, from whom her mother was learning at the time, while she was still a younger girl, and seeing her talent, Ustad Bhurji Khan’s family immediately took a liking of her, and she started spending long hours with them. Her ties with the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana were to strengthen still, when she started learning from, Ustad Alladiya Khan’s nephew Ustad Natthan Khan; though she really came into her own under the tutelage of Ustad Ghamman Khan, who came stay with their family in Mumbai, to teach her mother thumri-dadra and other semi-classical forms.
Shobha Gurtu specialized in semi classical forms as thumri, dadra, Kajri, Hori etc, effortlessly adding pure classical passages into her singing, thus creating a new form, and reviving the magic of forms like, Thumri, of which she became a greatest exponent in time. She was particularly influenced by singer Begum Akhtar and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. She also performed music in Marathi and Hindi cinema. As a playback singer, she first worked in Kamaal Amrohi’s film, Pakeezah (1972), followed by Phagun (1973), where she sang, ‘Bedardi ban gaye koi jaao manaao more saiyyaan’. She earned a Filmfare nomination as Best Female Playback Singer for the song “Saiyyan Rooth Gaye” from the hit film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978). In Marathi cinema she sang for films like Saamna and Lal Mati.
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