Rasbihari Desai — a veteran musician, singer of Gujarati light music (Sugam Sangeet) —breathed his last on Saturday morning at Jivaraj Mehta Hospital due to heart attack. He was 77. One of his most popular prayer song Maadi Taaru Kanku Kharyu ne Suraj Ugyo…, will bring back to your ears the soulful voice of the Rasbhai.
Many people who had the fortune of meeting the doyen would remember Rasbhai referring to himself in third person and not as ‘I’ but always as ‘Rasbhai’.
Born on June 23, 1935, at Patan in north Gujarat, Rasbhai was fostered by his paternal aunt Nirmalaben Desai, as he had lost his mother Durgaben at the tender age of 4.
Thus he always called his aunt ‘Fuimaa’ (aunt-mother). Music was always in Rasbhai’s DNA. His father Ramanlal sang poetry and songs of Zaverchand Meghani during the independence. This was the reason that in spite of having no formal training in music, Rasbhai was put on the ‘A’ category list of the singers of All India Radio.
A Physics professor in Bhavan’s college in the city, Rasbhai also taught Ceptians on acoustics. However, his real identity was ‘Shruti Vrund’ as he founded a group by that name in 1961. The group popularized Gujarati poetry and songs through music for four decades.
Rasbhai’s journey of his musical life became more melodious, when he married Vibha Vaishnav in 1964. The couple took Gujarati music to such a height that it inspired many of the present day singers to take up music as a full time career. Most of the contemporary musicians and singers of Gujarati music were associated with Shruti in one or other way.
Though Rashbhai’s first film Kaashi No Dikaro fetched him the award of the best playback singer, he, however, always considered himself to be a student of music.
Veteran journalist and writer late Tushar Bhatt had written about him as, “Rasbhai, as Rasbihari is generally known, approaches music with a sense of reverence, combined with a scientific attitude of a life-long professor of physics.
Entire Gujarati music fraternity is shocked at his sudden demise. CM Narendra Modi, MP Harin Pathak, mayor Asit Vora paid rich tributes to the musician and said the loss is irreparable.