A renowned name in the field of Hindustani classical music, Pune-based legendary Gwalior Gharana vocalist Pandit Mohanrao Karve passed away in Pune on Thursday (January 8). His funeral took place late in the evening at Vaikuntha Crematorium the same day. He was 90 years and is survived by four daughters and wife Sulabha Karve. One of his daughters, Manjari Alegaonkar, is a well-known classical singer.
“For the last few months he was keeping unwell. About two days ago, he fell down at home and was hospitalised at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital. He was supposed to undergo a surgery but before the surgery could be performed, he passed away,” said city-based musician Chaitanya Kunte, who is not only a disciple but also a family friend of the Karves. Kunte took lessons in vocal under Karve for about seven years.
From an early age, Karve had keen interest in music, which he had inherited from his parents. While his mother was a skilled harmonium player, his father, though worked as a government official, had a good ear for classical music.
The couple encouraged Karve thoroughly to follow his passion. At a young age, Karve joined the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya — a well known music institute in Pune. Interestingly, he was one of the few students who passed out from the very first batch of Gandharva Mahavidyala. In 1933-34, he worked as a child artiste in the film Bhakta Prahlad produced by Saraswati Cine-Tone.
As the era lacked technology in playback singing, the young Karve was required to sing as well as act at the same time. “His role was appreciated a lot; even the songs of the film became very popular. They were well-received especially by women audience as the songs were devotional in nature.
Post the film, he became popular as ‘Master Mohan’,” informs Kunte. After the release of ‘Bhakat Prahlad’, he was trained by various stalwarts like Gayanacharya Ramkrishnabua Vaze, Late Haribhau Ghanghrekar, Baburao Phadke, Phatak Bua, Babanrao Kulkarni, Bhave Bua, Navneet Bhai Patel and Vamanrao Deshpande to name a few.
During those days, states Kunte, Ravivar Mandal also known as Sunday Club, established by late Ganukaka katre was a prestigious music club in Pune. The venue witnessed performances by eminent artistes such as Pt. Kumar Gandharva, Bal Gandharva, Nivruttibua Samaik, Pt. Mallikarjun Mansoor, Ahmedjan Thirakwa Saheb and also Karve, who performed as a solo as well as accompanying artiste.