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Veteran harmonist makes exit 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Tulsidas Borkar, the veteran harmonist who passed away last week was one of the most versatile harmonists of the country. Borkar, with a career spanning almost six decades, not only accompanied great vocalists but also played solo concerts.He trained many young and aspiring harmonists who have made the grade as concert artistes. Borkar, an extremely humble and polite man, always bowed his head as a mark of respect to elder musicians and unfailingly provided encouragement to youngsters.

Borkar hailed from Bori in Goa. Goa has been a rich soil for music and musicians. Talents such as Kesabai Kerkar, Dinanath Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle,Jitendra Abhisheki, Prasad Sawkar,Prabhakar Karekar and many others were born in Goa and rose to fame thanks to the exposure received in  Bombay. Borkar joined a drama company at a young age. He trained as a harmonist under senior instrumentalist Vasht and was also received valuable guidance from Chhota Gandhrv who was the most popular actor singer. Harmonium players, in those days also acquired the technique of playing the organ. Borkar proved to be indispensable to the theatre drama companies due to his skill as an organ player.

He picked up his ragas and compositions while accompanying great singers like Ram Marathe, Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur, Hirabai Barodekar, Jitendra Abhisheki and others. His mastery of his medium was such that he could easily tailor his music to the singing style of the singer whom he was providing accompaniment. Borkar's strongest point was that he realised the limitation of the harmonium. He knew that it could not produce the 'meend'
( glissando) or the 'gamak ' ( oscillations).  Therefore, he did not make any tall claims. On the contrary, he said that the strength of the harmonium was in providing sustained note support (holding the note for long) and playing the 'cut notes' which was the most sensible assessment of the strength of the instrument.

Borkar, a recipient of Sangeet Natak and Padmashree award,was a dedicated teacher.He taught a number of students who have blossomed into full fledged performing artistes. One can name a few like Sudhir Nayak,Ajay Joglekar, Seema Shirodkar, Jayant Phadke  and Niranjan Lele. Borkar's absence from the concert platform will be sorely missed by concert goers.

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