Shaikh Riyazoddin Abdul Gani

Born on 17April 1942 in Wadavani village in Beed district of Maharashtra, Shaikh Riyazoddin Abdul Gani absorbed in his native environment the tradition of performance associated with the worship of Lord Vitthala of Pandharpur. Better known as Rajubaba, he renders with great feeling the Wari Kirtan or Chakri Bhajan which grew out of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra. This performance for the masses draws in all elements of natya, employing music, movement , and abhinaya in equal measure. He is the best known artist in this genre, and is now settled in the village of Kaij.
Besides engagements in his own milieu, Shri Riyazoddin has presented his art at events in several cities. Among these are the 71 "Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in Mumbai (1998), the Kaalnirnay Lokotsav (2004), Lokotsav, Nanded (2004), and the Bharat Rang Mahotsav (2000), New Delhi, organized by the National School of Drama. He has also performed over All India Radio, Beed, and on DD Sahyadri, Mumbai.
For his con tribu tion in the field of folk theatre, Shri Riyazoddin has been honoured with the Balgandharva Puraskar (1988), the State Award of the Government of Maharashtra (2000), and the V.K. Patil Kalagaurav Puraskar (2002). Shaikh Riyazoddin Abdul Gani receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to the folk theatre of Maharashtra.