Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande’s khayal vocal style draws on her PhD in Biochemistry as well as the traditions of her illustrious musical family. Her grandmother played dilruba, and she first received instruction from her mother Manik Bhide, a successful singer.
Always inclined towards learning in all directions, she completed her PhD and worked as a biochemist and atomic scientist for several years. But music was ever-present: “What was essential was my need to find light. I gave up science 30 years ago for the sake of music, initially giving myself a year to explore it. That year has never stopped!”
Her exacting style is emblematic of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, although she has also mastered the finer points of several other regional traditions. She draws inspiration from Sufi poet-saints as well as science, and specialises in sankeerna (mixed) and achchop (complex) forms.
Her analytical mindset does not mask a deeply human approach to ragas, seeing them almost like living, breathing people:
“I want the raga to befriend me too. If I’m interested in a raga, I want it to be interested in me as well.”
She reminds her students that “you can bring your tradition forward by looking into the past”, encouraging them to resurrect rare and near-forgotten ragas.
"Science and music complement each other for me...they build my personality, and cannot be separated now. In any case, the scientific should not be separated from the aesthetic - I feel they are two sides of same coin."
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