Pune Int’l Film Fest: Pt Bhimsen Joshi turned ‘voice’ into tangible form, says Javed Akhtar

“Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi was the only maestro who showed his voice to the world. When he sang, the voice was a tangible material form that could not only be heard but also seen,” said poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar. He was speaking as a special guest at the inauguration of the 20th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) held at Balgandharva Rangamandir.

“My statement about Pandit Bhimsen Joshi may seem exaggerated, but those who attended his live concerts would definitely agree with me,” Akhtar said.

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The 20th PIFF, jointly organized by the Pune Film Foundation and the Government of Maharashtra from March 3 to 10, is themed around the centenary of the birth of three great personalities – Indian classical music maestro Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, filmmaker legendary Bharat Ratna Satyajit Ray and famous poet-lyricist Padma Shri Sahir Ludhianvi.

Akhtar noted that Ray’s films continue to be relevant as they represent the highest values ​​of human life, dignity, understatement and nobility. He also spoke at length about Sahir Ludhianvi and Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar who passed away recently.

Praising the works of lyric writers like Majruh, Pradeep, Shailendra and Sahir, Akhtar said they should have been awarded the biggest prizes in the world like the Oscar or the Nobel Prize. “Sahir was one of the greatest lyricists in the world. His songs had the philosophy of the people and made a great contribution to society,” he said.

Recounting his experience of working with Mangeshkar, he said, “There can never be another Lata Mangeshkar in the world because she was the only singer who could sing the subtext of poetry. His voice sang the meaning of the words.

Akhtar also praised Pune as a city of intellect and art and pointed out that PIFF is one of the few film festivals that focuses on showing independent global cinema.

Veteran filmmaker and PIFF director Dr Jabbar Patel said the festival was popular despite the pandemic. “Even in the era of Covid, we received 1,578 films from all over the world. We will present 110 films from 65 countries throughout the festival. He said the festival received 100 Marathi films, seven of which were selected for the competition.

Speaking on the occasion, classical singer Pandit Satyasheel Deshpande gave an insight into Pandit Joshi’s contribution to Hindustani classical music. “India is known for the greatness of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, while we Indians consider him our pride,” he said.

Deshpande added that Hindustani classical music is the only music in the world performed by a solo artist with few properties or resources. Pandit Joshi never did fusion, never cared about the complexity of the notes. He believed in taking his audience on a journey of his ragas. “He was the only singer whose notes assured the audience, he always created musical drama and gave the essence of classical singing to Bhakti Sangeet,” Deshpande explained.

The inauguration ceremony included a medley performance titled ‘Krishna’ by artist Sharvari Jamenis who dedicated the performance to the late Pandit Birju Maharaj and Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar. Dr. Ganesh Chandanshivey performed Maharastrian Gondhal folk music and Yashwant Jadhav performed the traditional Powada. Actors Shreya Bugade and Swapnil Joshi presented the inaugural session.

The inauguration ceremony was followed by the screening of the opening film ‘Neighbours’ directed by Mano Khalil from Switzerland.

Chairman of Akhil Bharatiya Chitrapat Mahamandal Meghraj Raje Bhosale, Secretary of Pune Film Foundation Ravi Gupta, Trustee of Pune Film Foundation Satish Alekar, Creative Director of PIFF Samar Nakhate and Committee Member of PIFF selection Abhijeet Randive were also present on the occasion.

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