Mallikarjun Mansur is one of those vocalists, who will always decorate the annals of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. His style though within the parameters of the Jaipur-Atrauli gayaki, had its uniqueness.
Born in 1910, Mallikarjun Mansur was faced with financial difficulties, which prompted him to work as an actor-singer in the plays produced by the Vishwagunadarsh Company. Later, he was accepted as a disciple by Neelkanthbuwa Mirajkar (Alurkar). But once again pecuniary needs led him to accept an assignment with the Vani-vilas Natak Mandali. Mansur accepted the offer on the condition that the Company would employ Neelkanthbuwa as his guru on a monthly salary of Rs.100/-.
Mansur’s first commercial record was released in 1933 and the next two years saw more releases. The repertoire on these records consisted of khayal, Marathi theatre songs, thumris, Kannada bhajans and other songs. These recordings brought fame to Mansur and he was invited to perform in Mumbai every year. He then moved to Mumbai to pursue his career, but met with great difficulties in the city.
In 1935, Mansur unexpectedly met Manji Khan, son and disciple of Alladiya Khan, the founder of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana, who agreed to accept him as his disciple after listening to his record. His training with Manji Khan continued until the latter’s death in 1937. Thereafter, Mansur began learning from Manji Khan’s younger brother Bhurji Khan. When Bhurji Khan moved to Kolhapur with Alladiya Khan two years later, Mansur earned and saved enough money to rent a hotel room and learn from Bhurji Khan in Kolhapur. For many years, Mansur took training for three to four months at a stretch in Kolhapur and returned to Dharwad for a month or so. Bhurji Khan died in 1960, but subsequently, Mansur learnt compositions from Bhurji Khan’s son Azizuddin Khan.
Mallikarjun Mansur was a frequent performer on the All India Radio. But in 1953, he joined the country-wide agitation against the policies of the radio audition committee. He was later appointed as advisor to the All India Radio, a post he held from 1960 to 1969.
In 1945 and 1947, Mansur composed music for the films Subhadra and Chandrahas, respectively.
Mansur headed the music department at the Karnatak University, which was set up mainly due to his efforts.
A recipient of several awards, Mallikarjun Mansur died in 1992 after a prolonged illness.
Sadanand Kanvalil, Mallikarjun Mansoor, (Marathi translation by Deshpande, Dr. Prabhakar), Satyajit Prakashan, Mumbai, 1993.
Biographical note prepared by Aneesh Pradhan