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New generation Sitar player Sanjay Deshpande Ragas 2 Rock Stars of Belgaum

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sanjaydeshpandeSanjay Deshpande is a multifaceted and versatile sitar player who is known for presenting a variety of music forms on his Sanjaykhani Sitar, straight from very authentic Indian classical khayal, Indian evergreen film songs to fusion rock called Ragas-2-Rock! And to be proud he is from Belgaum.

Disciple of Late Pt. Vishnupant Dharmadhikari; an Esraj (Dilruba) Exponent of Gwalior tradition. Sanjay Deshpande is one of the leading Sitar players of the younger generation. He is performing Hindustani classical music and composing light music since 1979. Sanjay Deshpande is the pioneer exponent of Khayal Angon Sitar. He has made major changes in Sitar instrument as well, thus facilitating for playing not only Hindustani, but any music on Sitar. This Sitar in being popularly named as Sanjaykhani Sitarby the Sitar makers.

Sanjay Deshpande was not known as a Sitar player 12 years ago. He was better known as a keyboard player from the famous Indian film music group- Melody Makers. Sanjay started his career as a professional musician in a group called Musical Stars (Melody Makers’ youngsters’ group) along with today’s leading artists on the big and small screen -Johny Lever, Sudesh Bhosle etc.  . He also accompanied famous Indian playback singer late Kishor Kumar for his stage shows in India and abroad. As he had a least attraction towards the silver screen, Sanjay always felt that his true field was classical music only? He was well aware that success in the light music field was quicker but a shorter one, and to become successful artist in classical music one needs a lot of Riyaz and patience, which he was prepared for.

Today he has emerged as one of the front benchers of the younger generation clan; his career span is quite wider- From Hindustani classical – film music to pop, and “Rock-n-Raga – a new concept in music.

In the year 1995, Sanjay was felicitated with “Late Trimbak Daji Joshi Award” by Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay, Mumbai, for securing first rank in Sangeet Visharad, with Sitar as subject. Sanjay also accompanies famous music group the Melody Makers from Pune, as a Sitar and Keyboard player for selected prestigious showsHis first audio cassette of his Sitar recital “The Singing Sitar” was released in 1993, through Super Star Audio Cassette Company, which won great applause and was appreciated by noted music critics and national news papers. He presented weekly Sitar concerts and lectures for selected European audiences at Belgaum, through Image Holidays, England, and prestigious concerts for Kerkar Art Complex, Goa.

Sanjay is also a composer. He has been composing Gazals, Devotional songs, light classical songs, radio and TV commercials since 1984. Till date, there are more than 40 commercial cassettes recorded, composed, arranged and played by him, which include instrumental music devotional, folk and classical compositions. Sanjay is in to the fusion of Rock and Indian classical. He comes with a unique concept of Rock-n-Raga. Very recently, a noted music company from Pune, Alurkar Music House has released four albums of Sanjay’s Sitar of Evergreen Film Songs on Sitar- ‘Melodies & Memories‘.

Sanjay Deshpande conducts special lecture cum demonstrations on the subject “Vocal music and Sitar”. He has also been performing examinership for various exams conducted nation-wide, by Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay Mandal, Mumbai. Sanjay is also an accredited artiste of All India Radio. We can regularly listen to his radio concerts from AIR Dharwad. Alongwith, Sanjay has also given concerts of TV channels like Panaji Doordarshan, Udaya TV and ChandanaChannel (Bangalore Doordarshan) as well. His performance has been widely acclaimed by the famous artistes and Critics as well. Off late, Sanjay is also into fusion music comprising Indian Classical and Rock music. He presents this concept under the title Rock-n-Raga. One more specialty of this programme is that all the music on the stage except live Sitar and Tabla is virtual. So far, Sanjay has given many successful Sitar concerts in major cities of the country through festivals Music circles in many places in India.

Sanjay has made major changes in the hardware of Sitar, to be suitable to play literally any music on Sitar in the view of making it a versatile and popular instrument globally outdating a conventional Sitar.

Any musical instrument is a medium of expression and we have to see whether the given musical instrument is capable of doing it or not. Sanjay feels that every Indian instrument is definitely capable of delivering any kind of music except the present Sitar, because of its present frets’ structure. None of the other music than our Hindustani classical music follows the note structure similar to our Ragas; hence the instrument should have all the frets on the fret-board so that any note can be easily played without shifting any fret.

From the view of modifying the present Sitar, he redesigned the tuning, i.e. the strings structure, Bridge and refitted the remaining frets to be able to play almost any kind of music on Sitar.s_khani

Sanjay started playing Sitar, with traditional tuning, later switched over to Vilayatkhani tuning and recently arrived on to a combined type of tuning. Truly speaking, the Ga String in Vilayatkhani tuning gives a beautiful filling effect in between the hollow phrases but while playing the notation in lower notes, the improvisation is sometimes felt incomplete. In Ragas like Yaman or Bihag, where the Aroha or the ascending in the lower octave or Kharja starts from Ni, he felt that the lower Pa string is very essential. However, in the above tuning structure, playing chords will not be easily possible.

The major aspect in this new Sitar is a totally new concept in the design of the bridge. Sanjay introduced a bridge with convex curvature for the Sitar. The conventional bridge of the Sitar is a flat piece made of Deer horn or Rose wood, on to which, the strings travel.

Benefits of this new bridge are- one can play on any string, on any fret, which is not possible on conventional Sitar. Because all the strings run parallel to the curvature of the bridge, there is no problem of dis-tuning of note. Secondly- Playing mends becomes very easy, because after stretching the string, it flows as per the curvature of the frets and there is no obstacle to the string, because of the curvature of the bridge, which is not possible in the conventional Sitar because of the straight bridge. And the most important thing is that the bridge does not require frequent leveling (Zawari) thus increasing the bridge life. The material used for making this new bridge is the same conventional material only.

Previously Sitar had all the frets like been. This Sitar was called as Achal Thaat Sitar. Some artist removed the frets of komal Re and komal Dha as the Hindustani raga structure does not usually need both Re(s) and Dha(s) at a time, converting it to a Chal Thaat Sitar which is regularly in use today. Major draw back in this Sitar is that, one has to physically shift the frets of Re and Dha make them either shuddha or komal. As far as playing classical music on sitar , it seems fine . but If anyone wants to play any other type of music on sitar, it is virtually impossible to play because two vital frets are missing! Hence, he did the re-addition of frets making it a complete Sitar. Partner of a renowned Sitar maker firm- Naushad Mirajkar seemed completely satisfied with the changes. He has named the new millennium sitar as a Sanjay Khani Sitar.

He has brought a unique style of presentation of his own- The “Khayal Ang”. He explains-” As the capabilities of this new instrument were not known or may be that the instrument may not be having the technical perfection to imitate Gayaki on it; the musicians should have simplified the Khayal Ang into simplified version of Gat -Toda. Therefore the Bandish became the Gat and the Taans converted to “Todas.”

After many years, the new thought of rendition came and the suitable changes in the instruments also were done. Today the new generations of Sitar players are experimenting on the proper conversion of Sitar playing by improvising the Raga into vocal style, with the usage of parallel terminology applicable in vocal style, playing Drut Bandish on Sitar, instead of the traditional Razakhani Gat. Sanjay has converted, or rather re-moduled the flat term toda, as taans. and a modular and a compact structure of a typical presentation of the Bandish in a typical Raga with the Sthai, Antra, the Sthai Taans, Antra Taans and The Sampurna Taans in a variety of Alankaars.

Ragas-2-Rock is a unique combination of the Rock with a blend of Indian Classical Music enjoyable to the lay and younger generation audience is Ragas-2-Rock!sanjaydeshpande1

Ragas-2-Rock is a concept where one can enjoy all sorts of music from the age old ventures, the golden songs of Indian Cinema to the latest ones from Bollywood. This programme creates a magic on the listener and all sorts’ of audience enjoy this show with great applause.

For a glimpse of this programme, do click on the below mentioned link.

The debut album Rock-n-Raga wherein Sanjay Deshpande has written, composed and sung all his own English numbers is released by Alurkar Music House, Pune, India, and is available in India and the USA. This album is also available for online purchase through

Samples of his Film song sitar instrumentals:

Tere sur aur mere geet – Gunj Uthi Shehenai

Baiya na dharo – Dastak

Megha chhaye – Sharmilee

Laga jaa gale – Woh kaun thi

Isharo isharo maen – Kashmir ki Kali

Dheere dheere machal – Anupama

Sanjay Deshpande, Bhima Shankar, #199, Shiv Basav Nagar, Malmaruti Extension, Sector No. 2, Belgaum* (Karnataka State, India.) – 590010. Phone: +91-831-2470009.

3 thoughts on “New generation Sitar player Sanjay Deshpande Ragas 2 Rock Stars of Belgaum”

  1. I am lucky to have listened to Mr Sanjay Deshpande in one of the programmes at was really superb.
    Belgaum is really a treasure house of musicians.Mr Rambhau Vijapure is one of them.While in Toronto,Canada, I met Dr Nadkarni brothers who had come to Belgaum to study Medicine,learnt music from Mr Bijapure.
    So many disciples of Pt Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai hangal are here in Belgaum.

  2. Simply Superb! What a beautiful Vibrant Sitar Sound I have Ever Heard in my Life!
    I would rate Sanjay Deshpande`s Sitar Rendition just next to Sunil Dass` Golden Film Tunes!
    How to own the Full Versions of Mr Sanjay Deshpande`s Sitarography?
    Could anybody help me out to obtain at least one of his CDs?
    Goddess SARASWATHI should bless him with more Creative Powers in Future!


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