Biography of Shakuntala Bharne

Shakuntala had a flair for singing even when she was of the tender age of 4 years. Elders in the family recognised that trait and as a consequence she started learning music when she was 8 years of age. While in the school she participated in singing competitions and bagged prizes every year. She was always a part of every activity related to music and drama.

In the Commerce College which she joined after S.S.C Examination she became popular as a singer, writer, actor and sportsperson. She rendered songs in various functions, acted in plays and skits., wrote poems and articles for magazines and participated in sports like volleyball, badminton, kabaddi and kho-kho. She participated in inter-college and inter-State as well as national games. This all round interest and activity brought to her the “Best all round student of the year Prize” in the college twice.

After the graduation, Shakuntala wanted to master any one of the arts. Music, any way, was her first love. Besides she was gifted with such a rich voice. It was, therefore, quite natural that experts in music as well as her well wishers suggested that she should go ahead to make career in vocal music. This suited her desire and aptitude very well as she had started learning music early in life. After graduation she pursued it seriously; purchased a ‘tanpura’ from the money she had collected through prizes won in the college and set her on course in the right earnest.

Initially she received training from Shri. Ramrao Nayak of Swaramanch School in Margao. This training continued for 8 years from 1980 to 1988. During this period too she took part in various competitions at the state and also national level and won prizes. She became an approved artist of the All India Radio for the light as well as classical music. Gradually, as her confidence was building up, she started setting to tunes songs in Konkani and recorded them for AIR. This experience led her to write lyrics and to compose music for them.

Towards the end of 1988 Shakuntala took a bold and ambitious step. She joined Padma Vibhushan Dr. Gangubai Hangal, renouned exponent od Kirana Gharana style. Dr. Gangabai Hangal was a strict Guru. If was, therefore, imperative for Shankuntala to give up other activities and to concentrate on her training as a classical vocal singer. The training was rigorous and she had to cope up with all kinds of hardships and spend long spells of time in order to seek perfection in every note of the ‘Abhijat Gayaki’ of Kirana Gharana.
The training at the feet of that revered Guru, Dr. Gangubai Hangal at Dharwad Karnataka, lasted for about 4 years and then Shakuntala Bharne returned to Goa. In May 1991 she joined All India Radio as an announcer at the Panaji Kendra. This job helped her in two ways. On one hand it gave her economic security and independence to persue her love for music; on the other hand it gave to her access to recordings of many classical singers which offered a wide variety of styles of Hirabai Badodekar and Manik Varina which helped her to add effectively to what she had learnt from the Kirana Gharana style of Dr. Gangubai Hangal, whole working for AIR Shakuntala has continued with her training in classical vocal music. The renowned stage artiste and singer Prasad Sawkar and Shalini Sawkar, the couple that has dedicated itself to music, has helped Shakuntala with their training to polish her skills. At present, she receives guidance from Pandit Dinkar Panshikar as she believes that an artiste has to be a life long student.

Konkani music- a passion Shakuntala Bharne is, by nature an activist in causes that impact, language and culture. In 1986-87 she actively participated in the agitation for making Konkani the official language of Goa. She faced lathi chanrge made by the police and consted arrest along with others. As an artiste she herself was influenced by the ideals of the agitation and that influence is reflected in her passion of composing Konkani songs. She has set to tune many Konkani lyrics which are popular in and outside Goa. She possessed the acumen to blend in her style folk tunes as well as tunes with a western touch. Her creative style is embedded in the indigenous culture that helps to preserve identity. She strongly believes in the uniqueness of Konkani music and is optimistic that it will live to see better days. She has presented her compositions to the public on a number of occasions and they have been widely appreciated.

Shakuntala Bharne’s artistic talent has a special dimension. She is one among those few artists who can express themselves effectively through written words too. She has written articles and books on music. Her articles appear regularly in Daily Sunaparant in Konkani and in Daily Navaprabha in Marathi. They are also published in several other magazines.
Shakuntala has had the priviledge of interviewing such matters as Ustand Zabir Hussain (table), Vidushi Kishoti Amonkar (vocalist), Pandit Jitendra Abhishek (on Konkani music), Pandit Prabhakar Karekar, Brij Narayan (sarod), Anuradha Paudwal and others. She has travelled all over India as a classical vocalist. She has performed at Mumbai, Pune, Sangli, Kolhapur, Sawantwadi, Shirali, Gadag, Gulbarga, Shirsi, Haggoud, Kundgol, Bangalore, Mangalore, Udupi, Kudal, Chennai, Trichur, Thiruvanantapuram, Calicut, Cochin, Ankola and at many other places receiving applause and appreciation.

Shakuntala Bharne has brought out an audio CD of her songs in Konkani and has published two books on music in Konkani.
‘GOF’ is the title if her audio CD. All the songs are in her voice; they display a range of musical talent and a variety of styles which include folk style as well as modern tunes with western flavours.

SWARANAND published in 1995, was Shakuntala’s fresh book on music. This book describes in detail various forms of Indian classical music, peculiarities of Ragas, their significance and importance and the evolution of this music through the centuries. The book also has a chapter on Goan folk music, its uniqueness and the need to preserve it for posterity.

NAD BRAHMA, her second book, was published in 2007. In this book Shakuntala has dealt with some difficult and intricate aspects of Indian classical music. The contents of the book bear out her study of the theoretical as well as practical aspects of our musical heritage. This book received two State awards, one from Goa Konkani Academy and the other from Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Goa.