Mumbai: Composer Shankar Mahadevan says that late Marathi composer and director Srinivas Khale, who was his guru, continued to be the maestro of music till his last breath.
?"Would you believe, I`ve been lucky enough to be associated with him from childhood. At the age of 11 I played the Veena for two of the tracks in his Bhajan album `Ram Shyam Gungyaan`. And just 10 days ago, we honoured him on his 85th birthday. He sat in the front row listening to me trying to sing some of his composition, smiling as he always did. That`s how I`d like to remember him," said Mahadevan.
"Khale saab was in a lot of pain in his final days, lots of medical complications. But he continued to be the maestro of music till his last breath", he added.
Shrinivas Khale passed away at his residence in neighbouring Thane early Friday due to old age related ailments. He was 85.
Shankar learnt much more than just music from Khale.
"His compositions were very difficult to sing. But still so sweet to the ears. Arrey yaar, Khale saab`s songs are timeless. One of his compositions is worth more than 50 of my compositions. If I`ve imbibed even a shred of his genius, I`m blessed forever."
"He taught me so much. I learnt the value of humility from him. Whether it was a great singer or a chai wala, Khale saab treated them equally."
Shankar was Shrinivas Khale`s most trusted lieutenant and shishya.
"That`s true. You won`t believe this, but he`d hum his impromptu tunes to me that came to him regularly in bursts of inspiration, then he`d forget about them, knowing that they were in safe custody. He would later ask me to hum back the tunes and I`d remember it in every detail.
"I was like his son and sounding-board. Once, he suddenly asked me to perform a very intricate Natya Geet on stage after the singer who was to do the song couldn`t be present. I had no time for rehearsals or preparation. But he said, `You can do it.` And I couldn`t let him down.I had trust in his faith in me."
As for music Shankar says it would take generations to fathom the depths of Shrinivas` music.
"To call him the sangeet samrat of Marathi music would be an understatement. He was much more. Normally, when a composer brings an alien raga into a composition the effect can be quite jarring. Not Khale saab. His transition from one raga to another within one composition is something that would take me many lifetimes to understand. His composing technique leaves me breathless and humbled."
Shankar has not lost hope in present day music.
"There is room for Hindustani classical music. If you hear `Tere naina` in `My Name Is Khan` or `Dil dhadkne do` in `Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara`, somewhere that vast legacy that Shrinivas Khale has left behind is to be heard. There is hope," said the singer-composer.