Vasantrao Deshpande

Vasantrao Deshpande
Background information
Native name वसंतराव देशपांडे
Born (1920-05-02)May 2, 1920
Murtijapur, Akola District, Vidarbha
Died July 30, 1983(1983-07-30) (aged 63)
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Genres Hindustani Classical
Occupation(s) Singer, Actor, Musician
Instruments Sitar, Tabla, hand-held harmonium, Vocals, other
Years active 1928–1983

Vasantrao Deshpande (1920–1983) was a renowned Hindustani classical vocalist who was also a great performer of Natya Sangeet.

In 1982, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.[1] He was known for his role of Khansaheb in the 1967 musical play Katyar Kaljat Ghusli.[2]

Early life and background

Vasantrao Deshpande was born in Murtizapur, Akola District, which belongs to Vidarbha region of State of Maharashtra, in India.

He learned from several gurus, refusing to tie himself down to a single school of singing. He started his musical training in his home town Nagpur under Shankarrao Sapre from Gwalior, who in turn was a disciple of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. This was followed by Sureshbabu Mane of Kirana gharana, Asad Ali Khan of Patiala gharana, Aman Ali Khan and Anjani Bai Malpekar of Bhendibazaar gharana, and Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze.[3] But the most important influence on him was Dinanath Mangeshkar, and Vasantrao was the sole true inheritor of Dinanath's mercurial style of singing.

At the age of eight, Bhalji Pendharkar perceived his musical talent and launched him in the role of 'Krishna' in Hindi movie Kaliyamardan. He had received the training under different gharanas (schools or styles of music): Patiala, Bhendi Bazar, Kairana; yet he did not receive the stamp of any particular gharana.


Deshpande performed classical and semi-classical music. In the raga form which constitutes classical music, the artist displays his creativity on a basic canvas. Deshpande's rendition of ragas such as Marwa, Salag Waraali, Nat Bhairav, Kauns (in its various forms), Chhayanat, Basant Mukhari, Patamanjari, Jaijaiwanti, Janasammohini, Bhoop, Shree, Kalavati, 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 conceived Raga Raj Kalyan, a Yaman variant with 'Pancham' dropped altogether. He was also an accomplished tabla and harmonium player.

He acted in movies like "Kaaliya Mardan", "Dudh Bhaat", and "Ashtavinayak". He gave playback to more than 80 Marathi films. Besides pure music, he also put together the history of Marathi music plays, from origin showing their evolution up to the present stage.

Vasantrao had several commercial releases under his name.[4]

Personal life

His grandson Rahul Deshpande is a classical singer and he is carrying his style further. In 2015, he played the lead of Khan Saheb in musical, Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, which was played by Vasantrao Deshpande in the 1960s.[5]


The Dr Vasantrao Deshpande Pratishthan based in Pune, where his grandson Rahul Deshpande is a trustee,[6] organizes an annual music festival in his memory, titled Vasantotsav in Pune. The three-day festival is held in the month of January each year. Noted classical musicians and performers take part the festival. During the festival, two awards, the "Vasantotsav Youth Award" for Promising artists and " Vasantotsav Award" for veteran artists are given.[7][8][9]

In 2011, a three-day music and dance festival in his memory, was organized by the South Central Zone Cultural Centre (SCZCC) of Government of India in Nagpur.[10]




  1. "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website.
  2. Sangeet Natak, Issues 79-82. Sangeet Natak Akademi. 1986. p. 47.
  3. Jeffrey Michael Grimes (2008). The Geography of Hindustani Music: The Influence of Region and Regionalism on the North Indian Classical Tradition. ProQuest. pp. 160–. ISBN 978-1-109-00342-0. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  4. Michael S. Kinnear (1985). A discography of Hindustani and Karnatic music. Greenwood Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-313-24479-7. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  5. "Grandson Rahul to carry Pt Vasantrao's legacy forward". The Times Of India. Aug 28, 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  6. Pranav Kulkarni (Dec 23, 2008). "Vasantotsav to kick off from January 9". Indian Express. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  7. "Vasantotsav to start on Jan 18". The Times Of India. Jan 6, 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  8. "Season of Music". Indian Express. Jan 21, 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  9. "Celebrating the five elements of nature". Pune Mirror. December 23, 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  10. "Music festival in memory of Vasantrao Deshpande in Nagpur". IBN Live News. Jul 28, 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
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