THE EUPHORIC feeling is yet to sink in for Pune’s Mahesh Kale who has bagged the best playback singer (male) for the Marathi film, Katyar Kaljat Ghusli, at the 63rd National Film Awards. “I am missing my mother Meenal Kale — my first music teacher — the most, and Guru Pandit Jitendra Abhishekiji who would have been so proud of me today,” Kale told The Indian Express.
Music forms the core of the movie, which is based on an evergreen Marathi musical play. The story revolves around cut-throat competition between musical styles. “I am thankful that the sangeet natak-musical play has been revived and the film has been able to inspire and motivate several youngsters towards classical form of music,” Kale said.
The movie soundtrack also has songs from the original play composed by Pt Jitendra Abhisheki and after a long time, music is the protagonist in the film, Kale said. Kale, an accomplished vocalist of new generation, has played the character of ‘Sadashiv’ in the abridged version of the play that was revived by vocalist Rahul Deshpande, whose grandfather late Vasantrao Deshpande had immortalised the role of Khansaheb. For the celluloid version of Katyar, Kale has given playback for Subodh Bhave, who is essaying the role of ‘Sadashiv’ in this movie.
Kale, who studied at Abhinav Vidyalay, Fergusson College, and took up engineering at Vishwakarma Institute of Technology moved to the United States for higher studies. However, such was his passion for music that he gave lecture-demonstrations at Stanford and Harvard, performed with well known saxophonist in Jazz, George Brooks, and teaches music to students at San Francisco Bay area.
“My mother Meenal Kale was a noted singer of her time in her own right. She initiated me into taking part in competitions and introduced me to the world of Indian music,” Kale said . He went on to be the disciple of Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki — one of the maestros of Indian classical music.
“In addition to fusing traditional ragas with new compositions, Pt Abhisheki introduced the western opera style to marathi theatre and I am fortunate to be groomed in this rich tradition of Indian classical music that has been modernised to the liking of the new generation,” Kale said.
He added that actor Subodh Bhave who plays Sadashiv in the film and has made a debut in direction with Katyar Kaljat Ghusli – was a dear friend and they were part of a keertan project in the US. “I have been involved in the entire process of the film and not just as a playback singer,” said 40-year-old Kale. When contacted Subodh Bhave too recalled how he met Kale in 2009 in the US.
“I met him after such a long time and this exceptional singer has such ‘dard’ (pain) in his voice that it moves the soul,”Bhave said. Kale has struggled a lot and being selected for this award is a tribute to all the Indian masters of classical music, Bhave said.
Meanwhile, reacting to Mahesh bagging the award and bringing laurels to the city, actor Sachin Pilgaonkar, told The Indian Express that he is truly happy for the singer. “I am so happy for Mahesh Kale. I truly believe that he deserves the award and wish him many more.”