Vasantrao Deshpande (Marathi: वसंतराव देशपांडे) (1920–1983) was a Hindustani classical vocalist who was also a brilliant performer of Natya Sangeet. Vasantrao Deshpande was born in Murtijapur, Dist-Akola(M.S.), in India. He learned from several gurus, refusing to tie himself down to a single school of singing. His more famous gurus were Shankarrao Sapre of Nagpur, Sureshbabu Mane, Aman Ali Khan of Bhendibazaar gharana, and Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze. But the most important influence on him was Dinanath Mangeshkar, and Vasantrao was the sole true inheritor of Dinanath’s mercurial style of singing.
ne of India’s most illustrious classical vocalists, he performed classical and semi-classical music. In the raga form which constitutes classical music, the artist displays his creativity on a basic canvas. Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande’s rendition of famous ragas like Marwa, Salag Waraali, Nat Bhairav, Kauns (in its various forms), Chhayanat, Basant Mukhari, Patamanjari, Jaijaiwanti, Janasammohini, Bhoop, Shree, Maru Bihag, and Yaman had a quality to them that kept people interested. His performance of offbeat ragas was not too different. The sargam was his forte. He was equally at ease with the thumri, dadra and ghazal forms. These find their origins in countries like Iran and Afghanistan. He had picked up the original style and nuances of the thumri and ghazal while studying at Lahore. He also learnt quite a bit of Urdu to elevate his ghazal performances. Another area of music where he made his mark was “Marathi Natyasangeet”. Some of the plays in which he acted and performed were “Katyaar Kaaljaat Ghusli”, “He Bandha Reshmache”, “Vij Mhanali Dhartila”, “Meghmalhar”, “Tukaram” and “Varyawarchi Varaat”. Out of these, “Katyaar Kaaljaat Ghusli” became highly popular. Vasantrao became the cynosure of everyone’s eye for his challenging role of “Khan Aftaab Hussain Khansaheb”. As the play’s popularity began to soar, he acquired the alias, “Pandit Vasantkhan Deshpande”.
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