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Why Anjanibai Malpekar gave up singing?

Anjanibai Malpekar

It was the very period of music and artists’ transformation when Anjanibai Malpekar initiated her musical career. Though, it was a positive change, yet at the same time, the wealthy music lovers would gaze at the women singers with immoral eyes. Majority of the rich music aficionados would throng to watch the charm of a lady singer and her gesticulations rather than listening to her harmonious singing. Khayl was regarded only as one of the steps to begin singing. Most of the viewers would wait for the moment when the lady singer would begin her dance with her erotic gestures to sing Thumari, Gazals etc. This would followed by the rain of currency notes.

Anjanibai Malpekar too had the same and repeated regrettable experiences in her concerts. So, she decided to quit singing, though she had hard penance to attain a high place in classical music.

Once, Panjim Governor’s son went to Anjanibai’s concert. While the event was going on, he started drinking. After a few rounds of alcohol, he initiated physical advances too. Sensing the danger, Anjanibai Malpekar rescued herself by leaving the place instantly into the darkness outside.

Then, it was her singing event in a bungalow at Walkeshwar. The host was a renowned prince, who awarded Anjanibai with rupees ten thousand. While handing over the sum, he grabbed her hand.However, Anjanibai freed it forcibly and jumped outside from a nearby window.

It was the time when she was singing at Matunga in a wealthy businessman’s party. He had hosted a banquet for his rich friends and Anjanibai Malpekar was singing at the backdrop. One by one, when the guests started leaving the place, Anjanibai also decided to leave with her companions. But, the host barricaded her way. As she objected to his shameless advances, he took out his pistol. At the same time, one of Anjanibai’s companions shouted… … “Snake…Snake”. Listening to this noise, guests who were leaving the place ran back. Taking advantage of the situation, Anjanibai threw the money awarded by the host and ran away.

Then it was the last unfortunate incidence in Anjanibai’s musical career. Her concert was arranged at a lavish Mumbai bungalow owned by a King of a princely state. Many princes and kings were invitees for the event. Everybody present there was pleased by Anjanibai’s singing and her beauty. All of a sudden, one of the royal guests took hold of her hand. However, Anjanibai Malpekar shouted at him, “Remember, this is Mumbai. You’re not in your kingdom. If you still go on with your advances, you will be remorseful.” She immediately left the place, without accepting her royalty.

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Reaching home, she wept a lot and narrated the whole sequence to her family members. There, she touched her husband Basanji’s feet and took an oath never to sing for a private event. Also, there was an incidence in her life in 1904, when she had lost her voice for a year. Someone had laced her chewing betel-nut leaf with poison.

Thereafter, she would sing in a famous Mumbai temple, with a view to serve the Almighty. She also toured various temples of Uttar Pradesh to offer her singing there at the Lord’s Holy Feet. This was followed by her permanent renouncing of singing career. Wasn’t this the suffering of decent music lovers also who lost golden opportunities to listen to her melodious singing?
Anjanibai Malpekar_Raja Ravi Varma

Anjanibai Malpekar had such a timeless beauty that it inspired world famous painter Raja Ravi Varma for his paintings ‘Lady in Moonlight’, ‘Lady Playing Swarbat’ and ‘The Heartbroken’. Kumar Gandharva, Kishori Amonkar, Begum Akhtar, Naina Devi and Lata Mangeshkar are some of the celebrated Indian singers who are Anjanibai’s disciples.

There is very few Ragas on Youtube which is sung by Anjanibai Malpekar. Below is Raag Hameer

If you know other similar incidences I would love to hear in commenting section. Don’t forget to share it with your social friends via below social buttons.

About Pratik Kashallu

Hey Cassicals , I am Pratik Kashallu and I am steady followers of Indian Classical Music…just like you. I’ve have a passion for collecting antique classical gramophone records and record players. Thousands of antique gramophone records and many record players are available in my collection. With this zeal, I am a Admin of world famous Facebook fan page "Indian Classicl Music Fan Club" which is loaded by more than 22K facebook fans and it's total weekly reach is around 90K

8 comments

  1. You are doing a commendable services in today’s times for the Indian Classical music.

  2. Krishna Chandra Dash

    The story of Anjanibai Malpekar is really heart touching. The story shuck me a lot. still today classical talents are there all over India but due to financial problem there unable to achieve neither success nor teaching.

  3. Sir you are doing great job for spreading classical movement

  4. There is a lot of truth in what is written. Every femal singer has had similar experiences. I was taken by a AIR Nagpur violinist who ued to accomony me , to his place as I wished to get my violn repaired. The scene was shocking as he had just moved ther and set up a bed, His family was absent. I had taken my couosn with me. He went out and found out about him that he was new to the house,,came back and hit him very badly and tooke me away. Later he apoloised to me and said he had ben mistaken. I hae had many experiences , these are more in U.P and M.P but Nowadays Mumbai seems safe except for some folm people.

  5. Can you throw a little light on her illustrious students and her teaching in itself? How Lata Mangeshkar, Kishori Amonkar and the likes as you mentioned. Anything, it would be interesting to know. Thanks for sharing this peice of information from that era. Sad to know women inspite of being classical musicians were tried to take advantage of. My god, what an era, and how bold these women were to still pursue their love for the art and the stage. Its amazing, their journey… please share more. How to follow you?

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