About Pt. Balgandharv
To Commemorate & honor Shri Narayan Shripad Ranjans, born on 26 June 1888, the greatest Marathi Singer and stage artist better known as Balgandharv (1888-1967). He was famous for his roles of female characters in Marathi plays, since women were not allowed to act on stage during his time.
Balgandharv got his name after a performance in Pune as an aspiring singer. Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak the great freedom fighter and the grand old man of the Indian independence movement was in the audience, and after the performance, reportedly patted Rajhans on the back and said that Narayan was a “Balgandharv”(which means “Young Gandharva”).
Narayanrao Balgandharv acted in numerous classic Marathi plays and was one of those who were responsible for making Sangeet-Natak (Musical Play) and Natya-Sangeet (the music in those musical plays) popular among common masses. He was a disciple of Bhaskar-buwa Bakhale. Bakhale scored music for his drama Swayamwar. Govindrao Tembe scored music for Manapman. Among the younger lot, Balgandharva’s composer of choice was Master Krishnarao (Krishna Phulambrikar).
The songs rendered by him are, to date, considered as classics and his singing style is greatly appreciated by Marathi critics and audiences. Marathi stage was facing difficult times after the death of Bhaurao Kolhatkar in 1901. Balgandharv revived it. His famous contemporaries include KeshavraoBhosle and DinanathMangeshkar. He acted in plays written by Annasaheb Kirloskar, Govind Ballal Deval, Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar, Kakasaheb Khadilkar, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, Vasant Shantaram Desai. He began his career with Kirloskar Sangeet Mandali in 1905. The company was run by Mujumdar and Nanasaheb Joglekar. After Joglekar’s death in 1911, there was discontent about Mujumdar’s dictatorial and manipulative style. Balgandharva, Gangesh Govind (‘Ganpatrao’) Bodas and Govindrao Tembe left the company in 1913 to form Gandharva Sangeet Mandali. Narayanrao Balgandharva became the sole owner of the debt-ridden company in 1921.
Narayanrao Balgandharva became the sole owner of the debt ridden company in 1921. The debt was paid off in 7 years’ time. But the company accumulated debt again. over next 6–7 years. Balgandharv dissolved the company to make 6 films with Prabhat film company but the partnership was dissolved after just one film in which Balgandharv was portrayed in a male role, that of Sant Eknath. Narayanrao revived his drama company in 1937 and soon formed an infamous association with Gohar Karnataki also known as Goharhan whojoined the company in April 1938. Narayanrao increasingly ill at ease in female roles owing to his advancing year, the company was looking for an actress to play female roles. His brother Bapurao Rajhans left the company to protest against Goharjan’s entry in Balgandarv’s life when it became clear that Gohar would have a major say in the company’s stewardship. Narayanrao’s heart-broken when his first wife died in 1940. Narayanrao and Goharjan got married in 1951. Gohar died in 1964 & Narayanrao died 15 July 1967 The Balgandharv Rangamandir (Balgandharv Auditorium in the city of Pune & Jalgaon is named in his honour.