May 19, 2010 would be remembered forever by the music lovers of Auckland as the day when we lost the foremost Samvadini (Harmonium) player of our era. Jayant Bhalodkar, hailing from Baroda, and living in Auckland for the past 8 years breathed his last on on this day at 1.30 am. His end came swiftly after a period of brief illness. He is survived by a son (Sameer), daughter-in-law (Mruga) and a grand daughter (Tanvi). His only daughter Seema was also by his bedside during his last hours as she had flown down a week before from India.
Jayant Bhalodkar, an authority on Samvadini, had the privilege of getting guidance under the legendary Samvadini player, Govindrao Patwardhan, the finest player of Samvadini and Natya sangeet.
Originally from Baroda in Gujarat, music ran in the family. He inherited the family legacy of music from his father and his uncle, both noted musicians in their own right. He pursued a master’s degree and achieved ‘Sangeet Visharad’ in Flute. Health problems forced him to switch to Samvadini. Baroda had been a hotbed of music thanks to some excellent patronage that was received in the region to the musicians. He was lucky to meet many luminaries who helped him achieve success in his field.
Dr Sudhalkar (Baroda) introduced him to Govindrao Patwardhan, who immediately saw potential in him and took him under his guidance and taught him all about Natya sangeet. Listening to the legendary ‘Bal Gandharva’ and Govindrao was a lesson in itself and he had the privilege of attending several such sessions.
He was an arts graduate, who preferred voluntary retirement to focus on a music career. He was the only ‘accredited’ Samvadini player for the All India Radio in Gujarat. His book on ‘Samvadini’ is the first and only reference book on Harmonium in India. It has all the basic ingredients that are required for reference books!
He kept himself occupied with his interest in music and was instrumental in spreading this in New Zealand as well. He had played at ISKON festival, shows for Migrant Heritage Charitable Trust Inc, Auckland Marathi Association. He also had the privilege of accompanying Smt Basavi Mukherjee of Shantiniketan as well as Maharaja Ranjitsingh Gaikwad of Baroda, himself a well known singer, in New Zealand. He also conducted workshops on Samvadini with other instrument players like Lester Silver, Basant Madhur, Satish Sharma, Suresh Bhana.
His only unfulfilled ambition was to hold a “National Samvadini sammelan” in India. It has been my privilege to meet Jayant Bhalodkar and listen to him harmonising musical chords with artists as well as audience at the musical concerts. He awesomely stroke chords by producing melodious ‘Sur’ with flawless precision, his fingers moved with delicacy, sensitivity and rhythm. The Indian Classical Music circle will miss him a lot.
Tributes were paid to him at the Garden of Memories by Satish Sharma, Suresh Bhana, Harish Khatnaur, Sandhya Gogtay (Auckland Marathi Association), Senior Citizens group, ISKON among others. Each one had a touching story to tell about his musical knowledge and how he touched their lives. All will miss the great depth and knowledge that he possessed in Classical music. However, his legacy will live on through the efforts of MigHT-i. We wish the best for his family in these difficult times.
This couplet from the 'Neethishathakam' of Bharthrihari, extols the virtues of those who are self-respecting. They carve out a niche for themselves.
High-souled persons have only two states like that of a bunch of flowers; either they have to be on top of the whole world or they should wither away. Jayantji always epitomised this behaviour!