Gauhar Karnataki

...Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life....

Author Information:
(Dhananjay Naniwadekar on

About Gauhar Karnataki:

Her father was a tabla player named Hussein Khan, based at Bilagi (biLagii) which is 40 km from Bijapur. He had six daughters and a son. The eldest was Allamma urf Ahilya, born around 1904. Then Amirbai, then Goharbai, then Badi Manni, then Nanni Manni, and info is missing about one daughter. Some sources claim that Goharbai (born around 1908) was also called Gauramma in her early life. Their brother Dastgir was B Sc and worked for AIR.

Amirbai and Goharbai hated each other, but both worked for Vanivilas Naatak Company, a Kannada troupe, around 1930. Gohar learned under a blind singer named Panchakshari Gawai. (He also taught Panchakshari Mattigatti (b 1927), it seems.) She had told some people that her guru's name was Nilkanth-shastri. I don't know whether Nilkant Buwa and Panchakshari Buwa are the same person or different. Basavraj Mansur, brother of Mallikarjun, used to compose Kannada songs for her and also accompany her on harmonium. Mallikarjun's first main teacher was also Nilkanth Buwa of Gwalior Gharana and Gohar, who was almost the same age as Mansur (b 1910) and from the same area, may well be referring to the same person as her teacher.

Marathi stage singer Shankar Nilkanth Chapekar (sometimes spelt Chaphekar or Chafekar) discovered Amirbai and Goharbai and advised them to come to Mumbai. He and Gohar were companions in Mumbai for a few years in 1930s. Gohar had a daughter named Ashamma or Ashabi, probably born before her move to Mumbai. Ashamma lived with Gohar right until Gohar's death in Nov 1964.

Gohar's infamous association with Narayanrao Bal Gandharva(BG) from late 1937 to her death in 1964 (and beyond) is an independent topic. Very briefly :
Gohar had published 78 rpm-s of songs tuned for the play 'Kanhopatra' for BG by Master Krisnarao (Phulambrikar), and BG sued her. But the lyrics by Kanhopatra were traditional and it was ruled that a tune was no individual's property. BG avoided her for a few years after the episode. But Gohar first managed to meet him in 1937 when her singing pleased BG. The meeting took place at Himalayawala's posh place when he and his wife/consort Amirbai were away and BG was surprised that a woman whom he considered lowly had access to such a nice place. Just what transpired at that meeting has been a matter of speculation, laced with intrigue, and dealt at length in an article on BG by Marathi writer Ravindra Pinge published in 'Manoos' in 1971, and at greater length in a book on BG by the playwright Vasant Shantaram Desai (not to be confused with composer Vasant Desai). There were whispers that she hypnotised BG using a 'magic handkerchief' in this very first meeting. A mantrik named Fakruddin offered to de-hypnotise him, but the attempt was never made. It is a fascinating story.

Gohar joined Gandharva Natak Mandali in April 1938 prompting many old timers to leave the troupe. For 30 years before this, BG was famous for his rectitude, which partly made his fans think that Gohar cast an evil spell on him. Narayanrao's broken-hearted wife died in 1940. He and Gohar got married in 1951. There were persistent rumours that Narayanrao had become a muslim which he denied but he also made some contradictory statements. When he died in July 1967, the route of his funeral was secretly changed, fearing muslim demand to bury him, and he was cremated in haste while people waited with flowers along the original route to pay their respects.

After Gohar's move to Mumbai, 'Nanasaheb' Chapekar used to visit film studios dozens of times to get a role for her. According to his memoirs, Gohar was working for Bhavanani Films at a salary of Rs 800 per month before her entry into Gandharva Naatak Mandali in April 1938, but I could not find any Bhavanani film with Gohar in it.

Some of of Gohar's films : Raas Vilaas (1932, Sharda Movietone), with Gohar as Radha, and either Anant Damle or Krishnarao Chonkar as Krishna. The only famous Anant Damle I know about was 4-5 years old at this time, and I am inclined to believe that it was Chonkar who played Krishna in the film as Radha's seducer.

Her films:

Shak_karta Shivaji  (1934) - Produced by Shri Jaidevi Cinetone Company {It was Gohar Karnataki's first marathi film.}
Raas Vilaas (1932)
Not in Kaalaa Pahaad (1933) , imdb site had made a mistake about it.
Sohni Mahiwal (1933, with Krishnarao Chonkar as Mahiwal.)
Kaalaa Waagh (1934)
Pyaar Kii Maar (1935)
Bansari Baalaa (1936)
Gol Nishaan  (1936)
Graduate (1936),
Chaabuk Sawaar (1937) as actress and composer.
Kaalaa Bhoot (1937, Navinchandra seems to have acted in many films opposite her)
Vijay Dankaa (1938, one Bapu Apte has directed some of her films)
Hawaaii Khatolaa (1946)
Swadesh Sewa (1946)

Her Music:

(the below list has been taken from )

1a    GE 1508     Bageshree          priyakara mama bala
1b                       Karnataki kafi    na peluve
2a     GE1529     Jogiya           dhaarini natha ( MP3 Excerpt )
2b                       Bhairavi            mama deva tava deva
3a     GE 1541    Gazal                khabar hamne thumari
3b                       Gazal                raja ke chaman se mali
4a     GE 1571    Karnataki kafi   karuna kar madhava
4b                       Karnataki          bhavan bhagye srirama
5a     GE 1601    Bhimpalas          mohan shyam shobhana
5b                       Pahadi               jhani dawi paya
6a     GE 1628    Bhajan              satata wimala bhajana
6b                      Abhang              awaghachi sansara
7a     GE 1678   Pilu Bhajan        tuma bina meri kaun khabar
7b                      Jilha Bhajan      gokul chod gaye mathura
8a     GE 1696   Gazal                aapako chahane walonki
8b                      Gazal                hur men masti kahan
9a     GE 1726   Bhairavi            prabhu teri dassi hun mein
9b                      Jilha                bagikul chhod chale prabhu
10a    GE 1739  Bhairavi            fazal karam kar
10b                    Bageshree        yarab sainya
11a    GE 1794  Mishra mand    premasange jhimma kheku ya
11b                    Kafi sindhura   hoshil kan priya majhi aata
12a    GE 1845  Tilak kamod      nayani nache hari
12b                    Gazal               prem bharale aantarangi [music - D. P. Korgaonkar]
13a    GE 1934                           dina patita anyayi
13b                                             wishayache sangati
14a    GE 1944                            warma wairi yanche hathi
14b                                              pandurangi majhya bala
15a    GE 1992                             he ambika jagadambe
15b                                             amar hai prema ki shakti
16a    GE 1975                             prabhu tera mahima kare
16b                                             jagatame jivan do dina ka
17a    VE 1001                             patita pavana mhanwisi
17b                                             aja vaikhuntichya raya
18a    VE 1006       Bhavgeet        ye nabhala charuta
18b                        Bhavgeet        rajas padas kari chala
19a    VE 1007        Bhajan           majhya giriche jivan
19b                         Bhajan          patita tu pavana
20a    VE 1010                             saba kaliya khile
20b                                             kaise naina chalawe
21a     VE 1015        Bhimpalas     deva murali madhur
21b                         Tilak kamod   murali mohavi manas

Hindi films and music...

Copyright © 1999 Neha Desai. All rights reserved.