Veteran, artist Bhagavatha GorpadiVitthala Patil is in lime light now as efforts are on felicitate him in a big way on the occasion of his turning eighty. Born on 20 – 02- 1924 in a agriculturist family at Gorpadi of Cherkadi village of Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, Vitthala Patil had formal education up to six standard primary.
He had his initial training in Yakshagana, singing from Mudubail Subbanna Master and Bhagavath Thenginajeddu Ramachandra Samanth. He joined Mandarthi Mela, the foremost Yakshagana Troupe as an understudy with Januvarukatte Gopalakrishna kamath Bhagavath at an age of 16. He learnt different aspects of a Bhagavath’s profession under the guidance of Januvarukatte Bhagavath and Kunjalu sheshagire Bhagavath who is considered as the greatest Yakshagana singer of 20th Century in Badagu Thittu (Northern style).
Gorpadi Vitthala Patil grew up to attain had mastery over singing and conduction play of several Prasngas (texts) which his Guru sheshagiri Bhagavath was reluctant to perform. ‘shashiprabha Parinaya’ , ‘ Jambavathi Kalyana’, ‘Ramanjaneya Kalaga’ were among several Prasangas that brought him fame. Even sheshagiri Bhagavath used to play second fiddle to him when such Prasangas were given to perform.
Gorpadi Bhagavath had unique distinction of getting best perfance from blessed actors like Haradi Rama ganiga, Haradi Krishna Ganiga, Haradi Narayana Ganiga, Kolkebail Shina, Nilanara Subbanna Shetty, Bannada Kushta, Shiriyara Manju Naik and many others.
He had his professional carries extended over forty years. He served in several troupes like Mandarthi, Maranakatte, Amritheshvary, Perdur, Hiriyadka. But the prime of his carrier was as the Bhagavath of Mandarthi Mela.
There were so many competitive performances called ‘Jodata’ on those days. The demand of the competition for a Bhagavath is to outsing the Bhagavath in the opposite troupe. But it had its own toll. Gorpadi Bhagavath who outshone several opponents, lost the sweetness of his voice and was receeded from regular traces. Gorpady is an authority in conducting the ‘Purvaranga’ performance, Bhagavath Gorpadi Vitthala Patil .He knows by heart over thirty Prasangas which is no less an achievement. He also has two new Prasangas in his name that is ‘Pushkara Vijaya’ and ‘Kamakshi Parinaya’.
After retirement from the professional troupes Gorpadi Bhagavath chose to train amateur troupes. He imparted training par excellence. He thought some of the Traditional elements in Yakshagana Kendra, Kota under the princepalship of Marvi Naranappa uppur the founder Bhagavath of the Kendra from 1998. Gorpadi Bhagavath is on the teaching faculty of Yakshagana Kendra of MGM College, Udupi.
Many young Bhagavaths of Badagu style are among his pupils. Hiriyanna achar, Shivashankar Hariharpura are only a few to mention among his students.
The speciality of Gorpadi Bhagavath is his command over application of rhythm (Talagathi) in singing. With smooth and communicative beats of symbols he used to hint the types of steps of the dance to be adopted by the characters. He is actually the treasure of knowledge of tradition of this performing art left behind by those like Kunjalu Sheshagiri Bhagavath. Honoring him means respecting the great heritage handed over to the present generation.