Folk singer Shahir Vitthal Umap, 80, passed away while performing at a function in Nagpur on Friday evening.
Umap, a follower of Dr Ambedkar, collapsed while he was onstage at Nagpur’s famous Dikshabhoomi. He was rushed to a private nursing home where he was declared dead.
Born in a Mumbai chawl in 1931, Umap struggled for recognition of the neglected folk genres of Maharashtra. He had toured extensively all over the state to keep alive the folk traditions.
Umap had won the first prize at the International Folk Music and Art Festival at Cork, Ireland. His roles in roles in Shyam Benegal’s TV series Bharat Ek Khoj and Jabbar Patel’s film Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar won him further laurels. He was nominated for the best actor's award for his performance in a Marathi film Tingya two years ago.
He composed music for several films, serials and dramas. He was also a part of popular stage shows Khandobacha Lagin, Gadhwacha Lagna, Jambhool Akhyan and Me Marathi.
After years of wait, Umap was recently given a house under the artistes’ quota.
At a cultural programme three months ago, a frustrated Umap declared that he was fed up with making innumerable requests to the government. “I don’t think I will get a house in my lifetime,” he had said.
Then chief minister Ashok Chavan had earlier sanctioned plush houses to many artistes — several of them lower in stature than Umap.
Then deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who was present at the show, vowed that he would get the singer a flat and fulfilled his promise within a fortnight.
“I’m deeply satisfied that I could help him with an affordable flat in Mumbai,” Bhujbal said while paying tributes to Umap. “At the same time, I’m deeply grieved to know that we have lost a great performer.”
(With inputs from Pradip Kumar Maitra in Nagpur)