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Pandit Vinayak Torvi was fortunate to be trained by some of the finest musicians of the State. He holds on to each of those musical memories with great reverence

IN SPIRITPandit Vinayak Torvi believes that his gurus are his guiding force Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Appealing to the musical senses of a layman as well as the connoisseur, Pandit Vinayak Torvi's music is an extraordinary blend of the Gwalior-Kirana gharanas, bearing some influence of the Agra and Jaipur schools too. After the early propagators, for most Bangaloreans, Hindustani music and Vinayak Torvi's name was synonymous for a very long time. His music, heightened with a powerful voice, mastery over the form and a strong sense of commitment, has made Torvi, one among the early harbingers of Hindustani music in Bangalore, a favourite with many.

"From when I was seven or eight, I used to accompany my father to his kirtan sessions. I started playing the harmonium without any prior training. I got to learn for a year from Tammanna Gurav in Belgaum, after which I continued my training under Narayanachar Dandapur. I later sought training with Narayan Rao Majumdar of Dharwad, one of the senior-most disciples of Gayanacharya Pandit Gururao Deshpande.

It so happened that during a practise session, Pandit Deshpande paid a surprised visit and Pt. Torvi immediately stopped singing. However, he urged him to continue, and after he was done told guru Majumdar, that he should take lessons from him directly. It was a defining moment in Pt. Torvi's life. During his initial years with Pt. Deshpande, I would sit behind him playing the tanpura, and absorb every detail, even as he assisted with the household chores. Finally one day his daughter reminded Pt. Deshpande that he had brought him away from Majumdar to train him better, but no such thing was happening.

Pt. Torvi had decided to give up studies after his tenth exams. But his guruji insisted that he pursue studies, else he wouldn't train him. He believed that a thinking musician could excel in academics effortlessly.

Gururao Deshpande taught him Yaman, Pooriya, Todi, Jaunpuri, Shudhsaarang, Ramkali, Multani, Bihag, Tilakamod etc., A raga was taught for a year, until it was perfected. Pt. Torvi feels that it was Pt. Deshpande's profound thinking and approach to music that set him part from his peers.

After the demise of his dear guru, it was Pt. Bhimsen Joshi who took him as his student. And during these years, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi insisted that his music should rest on his own ability and voice and not imitation.

Pt. Torvi went on to do his master's from the Karnatak University and during his course he had the privilege of studying under stalwarts like Gangubai Hangal, Pt. Basavaraj Rajaguru and Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur.

Musician and banker

After so many years of rigorous training, Pt. Torvi, surprisingly, decided to take up a bank job. "I sought employment because, my guru had always advised me that it was better to have a job for a livelihood, to supplement my income from performances, rather than turning to full-time teaching. Besides, coming from the kind of financial status that I did, I had to support my family."

On how he juggled between his music and banking, he reveals startlingly that his five hours of riyaz was never affected. "Besides, I was so involved in my music, constantly thinking, breathing and living music, that there was no question of my job affecting it adversely."

Pt. Torvi's respect and gratitude towards his Guru led to the formation of Guru Rao Deshpande Sangeeth Sabha (about 23 years ago), a pioneering organisation to propagate classical music. The Sabha, under Pt. Torvi's leadership has been conducting all-night music festivals in Bangalore, year after year, inviting veteran and youth artistes from all over.

For a musician who has trained several promising students, organised music festivals, he believes that if music should reach new territories, the corporate sector and business houses should take on the responsibility.

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