Professor B.R. Deodhar

Blog / Jan 30, 2015

Prof. B.R. Deodhar

11th September 1901 – 10th March 1990

Indian musicologist, classical musician, music director, teacher of music, specialist in voice culture and writer. Born at Miraj, Maharashtra in western India, Deodhar who was generally referred to as “Professor Deodhar”, received formal training from several highly renowned teachers and exponents of Indian classical music including Vishnu Digambar Paluskar and Ustad Karim Khan. He also pursued higher education and graduated from Bombay University in History and Economics. In 1921 he was pulled into Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement against the British Raj. Around this time, he met an Italian musician who introduced him to western music and trained him in playing the piano. With guidance from his western music teacher, he passed examinations of London’s Trinity College of Music in the theory of Western music.

His knowledge and training in Indian and western music, enabled Professor Deodhar to compose music for the theatre. He also shaped film music from the time it had begun in Indian films. He is, therefore, regarded by some scholars to be the first composer of Hindi film music and to have experimented with the novelty of using instrumental ensemble music or vadya vrind in Indian films. He worked as music director in about ten films.

One of his early talking films was an Indio-British film, Shikari (1932). Shot in India by Indian technicians and an Indian cast under the direction of Naval D. Gandhi, its scenario writers were two Englishmen, C. Lestock Reid and Adrian Brunel. It was edited in London by Thorold Dickinson and Sidney Henry Cole. The School of Indian Music that Professor Deodhar set up in Bombay in 1925 is still a well-known centre of music and culture. One of his most outstanding pupils was the celebrated Indian classical musician, Kumar Gandharva. Deodhar was awarded a Padmashree for his contribution to music by the Government of India in 1976. He died aged 89 in Bombay.

The above findings are part of the research which ensued in the project – A Hidden Heritage: Indo-British Film Collaboration (1930-1951)

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