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Published in History & Culture

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Published in History & Culture

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Bal Gandharva was the first Indian theatre transgender

The early life of First Indian theatre transgender, Bal Gandharva (b. 26 Jun 1888 - d. 15 July 1967) was very fascinating and challenging. Born with the name Narayan Shripad Rajhans in a typical Brahmin family. He was not an ordinary boy. Maharashtra’s talent was first discovered by Tilak in a cultural program when he caught Rajhans singing passionately. Lokmanya Tilak, the ...
Bal Gandharva while performing

The early life of First Indian theatre transgender, Bal Gandharva (b. 26 Jun 1888 - d. 15 July 1967) was very fascinating and challenging. Born with the name Narayan Shripad Rajhans in a typical Brahmin family. He was not an ordinary boy. Maharashtra’s talent was first discovered by Tilak in a cultural program when he caught Rajhans singing passionately.

Lokmanya Tilak, the great freedom fighter named him Bal Gandharva by patting his back. While his stunning performance where all the cheerful audience applauded. Though Rajhans was an expert in singing but had hearing problems, Shahu Maharaj from Kolhapur noticed his art and decided to help him overcome his hearing aid.

Hard work and dedication

His hard work and dedication led him on a successful path and brought him to the stage when he played many women characters on the stage.
In One of the caste discrimination countries, Indian, women were not allowed to perform on the stage. At that time, due to his beautiful face-cut he was the only popular stage actor between 1905 and 1955 was also praised by Indian theatre actor of Indian cinema Prithviraj Kapoor.

There is an old saying that God helps those who help themselves.

Lokmanya Tilak

His family life was a bit of unsuccessful and went through crises especially when he got married a second time. Since he was from a Brahmin family, he got married at a very young age, arranged by his family to beautiful Laxmibai.

It lasted longer and went well, but due to his wife’s health issues, Laxmibai died after a successful 35 years of marriage. Awarding life got him another surprise and after eleven years of loneliness. He had fallen in love with Gauharbai Karnataki sister of Amirbai Karnataki. She was a singer by profession, an assistance stage actor and from a Muslim community.

Marriage crisis of Bal Gandharva due to his profession

The second marriage had many crises and never been accepted by both families. Their life went through childless with many curses. While performing on the stage as a woman many Marathi praised him, and thus he got many opportunities.

He acted in 25 Marathi dramas, his song greatly appreciated. He also got the President and Padma Bhushan awards from the government of India.
Among the most famous roles he played are as below, Bhamini, Rukhmini, Sindhu, Sharada, Vasantsena.

In Pune, a big bal gandharva rang mandir was built in 1968 inaugurated by the home minister of India Yashwant Rao Chauhan and Pu la Deshpande, the popular Maharashtra’s writer and humorist.

The original recording and voice of great Bal Gandharva

You may also like: The famous saying of Tilak, “It’s A Shame For A Man To Scare A Man.” and M K Gandhi's art of coying.

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