Update 1: Tulsidas Borkar was awarded the Padmashree award by the Indian government in 2016.
Update 2: Tulsidas-bab passed away on September 29, 2018.
Earlier this week I called on Tulsidas Borkar, the virtuoso of the harmonium, at his home in Mumbai. He is the quintessential Goan by temperament and manner, prototypical of an era that is now past. We talked about the great Goan musicians of the 20th C and their disproportionate contributions to Indian Classical Music. He then pulled out his harmonium and launched into an impromptu recital.
Tulsidas–bab was born in 1934 in the village of Borim located in Goa‘s Ponda taluka (the same village gave us the poetic genius Bakibab Borkar). He had the privilege of receiving training for 10 years from Madhukar Pednekar – also from Goa, from the village of Malpem in Pednem taluka – perhaps the greatest harmonium wizard of the 20th C.
In the course of a long and distinguished career, Tulsidas–bab has provided harmonium support to most of the leading Hindustani vocalists of our time – Amir Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kishori Amonkar, Jitendra Abhisheki, Basavraj Rajguru, to name a few. Even more important, he has produced the next line of musicians, with several of his students now counted among the top tier harmonium players in the country.
In 2005 Tulsidas–bab was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the then President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, the frequently-played filler interlude in between programmes on AIR-Panjim was a musical ‘button’ in Raga Tilak Des (Tilak Kamod with a dash of Raga Des) performed by Tulsidas Borkar.