Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida



The Federation of India Associations (FIA) of Tampa Bay will hold a virtual event to celebrate India’s 72nd Republic Day on Sunday, Jan. 24. This year’s FIA officers are President Jigisha Desai, Republic Day Event Chair Ramnarayanan Mani and Republic Day Event Co-Chair Rini Mishra.

There will be cooking, rangoli, fancy dress and youth art and essay competitions, 2020 high school graduates scholarships and a spirit of freedom blood drive. There also will be cultural programs and duets of FIA-music contests. Register at www.fiatampabay.org For information, email [email protected]

In related news, FIA provided six graduate students from India with financial assistance ($500/student) during COVID-19 on Sunday Dec. 6. 

From left to right:

Top row: Vidya Takkalaki, FIA Treasurer-2021 and USF graduate students
Bottom row: Vijayan Nair, FIA Treasurer-2020, Jigisha Desai, FIA President-2021, Bhanu Prakash Dhulipalla, FIA President-2020, Dr. Kotha Sekharam, FIA Trustee Board Chair-2021-2022 and USF graduate students.


A TRIBUTE TO Pandit Radharaman Kirtane – Indian Classical Music Guru in U.S.

Originally written in Marathi by Meghana Sane, M.A., M.Phil (Mumbai University)
Theatre and Film Artist

Pandit Radharaman KirtaneI was happy to have met Pandit Radharaman Kirtane as a result of our musical show performance for the Marathi Mandal of Tampa Bay. While searching for a local female singer, we were put in contact with Janhavi Kende, a student of the Pandit Jasraj School of Music, Tampa. She proved to be a beautiful accompanist for our show. Afterward, she introduced us to her guru, Pandit Radharamanji, a student and senior disciple of Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj. Back in the days in India, Radharamanji and I were both theater artists for the Natyasampada company, and we recognized each other. However, Radharamanji has been in America for the last 16 years, carrying the responsibility of being director of the Pandit Jasraj School of Music, Tampa.

Radharamanji’s journey in life is one to be marveled upon. Growing up in Mumbai, his family lived near the Shivaji Mandir theater in the neighborhood of Dadar. Radharamanji was born with innate musical talent, in a family which loved the musical arts. The atmosphere in their house was filled with music; everyone listened to musical drama programs on Aakashvaani radio.

His teacher, Manorama Phatak, used to teach music at Samrath Vidyalaya in Dadar. Radharamanji learned the basics of music from her. As he grew a little older, he started singing the musical drama songs of the great singer, Ramdas Kamat, in a voice that exactly replicated the original. Laxman Gavde of Natyasampada discovered Radharamanji and gave him the opportunity to play the role of ‘Chhota Sadashiv’ in the famous musical drama “Katyaar Kaljaat Ghusali.” Famous singers like Vasantrao Deshpande used to sing in the same musical drama.

Radharamanji gave more than 200 performances in this drama while still attending school. After that, he played various roles in Natyasampada’s dramas like “Sant Tukaram” and “Maharani Padmini.” Radharamanji was growing as an artist alongside great artists such as Vasantrao Deshpande, Bhargavram Acharekar, Shankar Ghanekar, Prasad Savkaar, Atul Vyas, Faiyaaz, Baalakram, Dinkar Panshikar, etc. The actor and noted classical singer, Pandit Baalakram, encouraged the development of Radharamanji into a great artist, and arranged for music lessons from his own Gurubandhu, Pandit Vasantrao Kulkarni. There, Radharamanji started receiving systematic education in classical music, which began shaping his own art.

It was around this time that Radharamanji first heard a recital by Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj. He was mesmerized by his performance, and developed a great desire to become his disciple. In 1977, on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya, Radharamanji and his mother went to meet Pandit Jasraj. They brought flower garlands and a coconut to honor his teacher. He also carried some money in an envelope as a good omen. Pandit Jasraj accepted the garland and coconut, but refused the money saying, “I do not accept money to teach music.” It proved to be the biggest turning point of Radharamanji’s life.

Radharamanji also became experienced in audio recording and other aspects of the field. He researched music for Doordarshan (TV) programs, mentored singing stars who participated in Reality Music shows, judged singing contests and sang cue tracks for famous singers, Hari Om Sharan, Anuradha Paudwal, Anup Jalota, Saadhana Sargam, Suresh Wadkar and Shridhar Phadke, under the guidance of music arranger Appa Wadhavkar, tabla player Kedar Pandit and music composers Prabhakar Pandit and Nandu Honap as well.

One day, Pandit Jasraj unexpectedly sent a message that Radharamanji should go USA and teach at his Tampa school. Radharamanji took this as his master’s orders, and started packing for America. His passport and visa were ready. But then he was in a serious bus accident, which caused considerable injury to his vertebral column. Dr. Vinod Ingalhallikar from Thane treated him so he could come to America!

Pandit Radharaman Kirtane has been teaching students in America since 2004. He teaches according to the ‘Gurukul’ tradition, much like the way in which he was taught. Students often spend a few days at the school to receive more in depth training, which is a rare opportunity.

In 2019, Radharamanji organized a Shibir, a music camp, for the circle of female students in Tampa. The Gurukul has also held programs and workshops for visiting artists from India and across the USA. Students who come to learn Indian music are Indian, Chinese, Pakistani and American. To learn Indian classical music is their common culture. “Classical music is a global language and so I can teach this to anyone,” he says.

Translated to English by Sayali Kelkar
Edited by Christine Ghezzo


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