Govindrao Tembe was a Marathi composer who is a prominent actor and also a playwright. He was born in Kolhapur to a family closely associated with Shahu Maharaja in 1881. Govindrao Tembe held several jobs as clerk, lawyer, and circus manager before joining the Kirloskar Natak Mandali as male lead. Bal Gandharva, Ganesh Bodas, and Tembe left Kirloskar to form the Gandharva Natak Mandali in 1913. For quite some time this company reigned supreme in Marathi theatre and much of the credit goes to Tembe as the first 'music director'. He was responsible for composing apt classical tunes and training the singers. His acting in Deval's versions of Sanskrit material, as Charudatta in Mrichchhakatik and Pundarik in Shapa sambhram, also won critical acclaim. After 1915 the Gandharva Mandali in turn split up, and Tembe set up his Shivraj Natak Mandali, named after Shahu Maharaja's son, prince Shivaji. It staged old plays as well as its own productions, among which Vasudevshastri Khare's Chitravanchana i.e. 'Deceived by a Picture' in 1917 and Krishnakanchan i.e. 'Dark Lustre' in 1917, and a translation of Manishankar Trivedi's Siddha-sansar or 'Successful Life' did extremely well. Tembe trained Shankarrao Sarnaik and Dattopant Pethkar, who are its two main artists. With Rajarambapu Purohit and Dada Ladu on harmonium and tabla, and the Painter brothers for stage settings, Shivraj was very popular, both in south and north India. However, it closed down after ten years.
Govindrao Tembe entered the renowned film company, 'Prabhat', as an actor-singer and music director. Making a big impact in 1932 he played the heroes of Maya Machhindra and Ayodhyecha Raja i.e. King of Ayodhya. He went back to Kolhapur and joined Shalini Cinetone where he scored the music for classic films like Usha and Pratibha in 1937. He established his own movie company, Natraj, in partnership with Durga Khote and Parshwanath Altekar, among others. His cinema career was characterized by his versatility as actor, director, music director, scriptwriter, dialogue writer, lyricist, and producer.
Govindrao Tembe wrote several plays based on mythological stories, which served as metaphors for the contemporary scenario of the Swadeshi i.e. nationalist movement. They include Patvardhan in 1924, Tulsidas in 1924, and Vatsalaharan i.e. 'Vatsala's Abduction in 1929. He adapted Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest as Gambhir ghatana i.e. 'Serious Business' in 1930. He also wrote a series of articles on women and the stage, where he argued how theatre would benefit from actresses.
Govindrao Tembe was a disciple of classical maestros just like Bhaskarbuwa Bakhle and Alladiya Khan. He left an indelible imprint on the development of the light-classical music idiom in Maharashtra. He was an excellent harmonium player who popularized the instrument banned by All India Radio as antithetical to classical music and gave it prestige. His Majha sangit vyasanga i.e. 'My Musical Pursuits' in 1939 documents the history of music in Maharashtra. He also wrote extensively on attempts to create post-Sangitnatak classical khayal in Marathi, problems of notating Indian music, and about the harmonium as well. Govindrao Tembe died in the year 1955.
(Last Updated on : 19-06-2012)