VERY few people may know this but as long as music director Shrinivas Khale lived, Arun Date would pay him a visit once a year and hand over a part of his earnings from his stage shows. Date felt that it was only fair that he shared his earnings with Khale as most of Date’s popular songs, which he performed in live shows, were composed by Khale.
This and many such anecdotes about Arun Date, or Aru Bhaiyya, as he was often referred to, the man whose melodious voice became synonymous with Marathi Bhavgeet, were shared by his colleagues in Pune who remembered him as a man with a big heart, affable nature and caring attitude.
Arun Date died on Sunday. He was 84. He was born on May 4, 1934.
Narendra Chiplunkar, a city-based harmonium player, who accompanied Date for over 1,200 shows, starting from 1992 till his last show about four years ago, remembered the late singer as someone who took great care of his team.
“He was a singer of great repute, but he used to treat each one of us with great respect. In fact, even during the show, he would wholeheartedly praise me if he liked what I did with the harmonium. These moments would give me goosebumps. Whatever success I achieved in my profession, I owe it to him,” said Chiplunkar.
During the tours, he would always make sure that each team member was comfortably accommodated and then only he would see his own lodging arrangement, he added.
“He had a habit of throwing these small parties after the success of a live show. Once, we were touring Goa and after reaching, we were told that the programme has been cancelled. All of us were planning to leave for Pune but he asked us to stay back. ‘We have been celebrating successful shows, now let’s celebrate the cancellation’,” Chiplunkar said.
Compere Arun Nulkar, who did shows with Date for 10 years, recalls the magic the singer’s voice would create amid the audience. “I did shows with him in Pune and Mumbai. We also travelled to the interiors of Solapur, Kolhapur and Nashik and even to Goa. Every show we did was houseful and each of his songs used to throw its spell on the audience. Be it Bhet Tujhi Majhi Smarate, Bhatuklichya Khelamadhali or the evergreen Shukratara Mandawara. Even if he decided to skip any of his popular songs just to bring in variety, the audience would insist that he sang each of them,” said Nulkar. He also remembered how Date had the habit of sharing his past experiences and anecdotes about songs with the audience during the live shows.
Shirish Rayrikar, who organised his shows in the 1990s, said it was on his insistence that Date’s popular show was revived around that time, after a long hiatus.
“Date saheb and Hridaynath Mangeshkar used to do the show together. Later, Mangeshkar started his own show and Shukratara was discontinued. It was in the 1990s that I got acquainted with Date saheb through a friend. I suggested to him, let’s do Shukratara again. We did that with Atul Date and Surendra Datar. He used to come to my house for rehearsals. At that time, I was newly-married and we used to stay in a two-room residence in a wada in Sadashiv Peth. Once my wife prepared a nice meal and Date saheb ate sitting on the floor. He was a simple man with no vanity,” said Rayrikar.
According to Chiplunkar, for the past five-six years, the singer was having issues with his memory, apart from other old age-related complications. “The last show in which he sang was in 2014-15. It was done on his insistence as he wanted to perform. Due to ill health, he had trouble remembering the lyrics. Even after that, whenever I went to see him, he would say that he wanted to perform. ‘After I feel better, I will come to your place, we will rehearse and then do a show’. He would tell me,” said Chiplunkar.