The Music Room: Namita Devidayal

‘This book is a must for every musician and music lover!’ – Pandit Ravi Shankar says the front cover of the book and that was enough temptation for me to pick it up.

The book is about music and musicians. The main vein of the book is the life of Dhondutai Kulkarni, a highly regarded singer of the Jaipur gharana. Namita, the author, is a disciple of Dhondutai and this book is the singer’s life through the disciple’s eyes. The book begins with Namita meeting Dhondutai for the first time and being taken as a disciple. As Namita progresses in her musical journey, she unravels the life of her teacher.

While the majority of the book is dedicated to Dhondutai, Namita gives us a glimpse into the lives of Alladiya Khan, Bhurji Khan and Kesarbai Kerkar who all had been Dhondutai’s teachers at a point of time. The book doesn’t sound like a boring list of anecdotes and incidents. Namita intelligently weaves the present and the past and also manages to sneak in a thing or two about Indian music, its origin and its history. The latter happens to be my favorite part of the book.

Even for someone who is not interested in the singer as such, this book would still be fulfilling. It gives an overview of what a gharana is, how each gharana differs from the rest, the culture, and the much talked about arrogance of the singers. Namita even tries to justify why singers are short tempered!

The language is simple yet effective. The author does not waste too much time in listing her own life incidents. She states as a matter of fact that ‘she got married’ or ‘she had a son’ and so on. She has no confusions about who the book is about.

The book is visually pleasing. It has a black cover page with a woman sitting with a tanpura with her back facing. I found this picture so captivating, I would sit and ogle at the tanpura, its intricacies and what not. I wish the author was more creative in coming up with a book title. The Music Room is too plain for such an enriching book.

I completely agree with Panditji that this book is a must for every music lover. I will also add that even if you are not a music lover, you might become one after reading this book.


7 Responses to “The Music Room: Namita Devidayal”

  1. namita devidayal Says:

    hello! read your review of my book. thanks so much! incidentally that is me on the cover, though not my real hair!
    all best,

    • Nidhi Somani Says:

      Hello Namita,

      How does your teacher feel about your book?

      Thanks for writing it, glad that I’ve read,
      Nidhi Somani.

  2. Anaamica Says:

    Hey, thanks for dropping by. Gosh, that is you on the cover? You are beautiful 🙂

  3. sap Says:

    Begin with interesting….! music shown in the story was not mixing with bombay culture,why its maximised morning and evening raagas…where the rest of the culture… and rest everything best

  4. mohit Says:

    Must be an enjoyable read The Music Room by Namita Devidayal. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by “to read” list.

  5. Das Says:

    Dear Ms. Namita Devidayal… I have yet to read about your book.. but from what i heard and read (the synopsis)., i felt i must meet you. I am never into meeting celebrities.. taking pics/autographs etc. All that is kid-stuff.. and i never did it even as a kid.. but i felt i must write you. There is a higher calling. I know the life of a musician is hard.. and a pathway of thorns. Who would wish to place one-self in consistent trouble and insecurity(ies) for a lifetime ! Esp. when you have a better/safe option to lead a normal life.

    But the problem is this : Musicians / Rasikas are NOT normal people… and that is the gist of my prayer to you. Those infected with this blessing / curse (as you deem fit i.e.) cannot remain normal.. because music is an ocean.. and we are mortals with brief lives on earth.. (in terms of tenure i.e.).

    You have been Dhondutai Kulkarni’s desciple.. for some years.. and there must be something in you.. that Dhondutai saw the next Kesarbai in you ! How i would love to meet Dhondutai.. offer her my salaams/pranaams.. and present her a simple saree.. some dry fruits.. as a token of my love and admiration.. but i do not know her address.. so if you can.. atleast convey my heart-felt salaams… As far as you are concerned.. see if you can continue your Swar-Sadhana… to the extent possible. I understand you have a steady job.. and a normal life.. so where will time for Music come from ? Afterall a day is of 24 hours..

    Lekin dil kehta hai.. ke tumse kahoon.. ke swar-sadhana jaari rakhna.. and keep the Special “cheez” of Allahdiya Khan.. Burji Khan… Kesarbai Kerkar… and Dhondutai Kulkarni.. alive.. You must sing them.. to your best ability. At times, you may not reach the level of these masters.. nevertheless.. you must keep them singing. They are part of India’s heritage..

    I want you to keep singing “Jaat Kahaan Ho” by Kesarbai.. and also “Bhar Bhar Aayi – Ankhiyaan Mori, Piya Binn”.. sung by Begum Akhtar… (both are in Bhairavi). When i first heard Bhar Bhar Aayi.. it sounded so mundane.. but it grew on me.. until it covered me like a blanket.. So I want you to keep singing.. Do NOT give up singing.. for anything in the world.. Job.. Money.. Car.. Flat.. Family.. All these are securities.. very true.. but Sangeet is a totally different dimension.

    We treasure you.. and i want you to continue singing.. Am I asking for the moon ? Write back.. I understand your predicament perfectly.. the brain tells.. its futile.. but my heart compelled me.. pushed me to write you today.

    Have a great day ahead… and may you sing wonderfully for years to come..


    I am keen on buying your book and will read it though. However, I am approaching you for a different cause. I am music lover for the past 40 years and have listened to classical Hindustani and Carnatic vocal and instrumental music and go into a trance and Samadhi like state everytime I listen to the veterans, thespians and doyens of music. I would like to be a part of an experiment to tap and test my brain by musicians cum neuroscientist or vice versa. The Shiva tattva in me is very heightened and I thank all these musicians past and present and the future for their soulful rendering and the bliss that they have given to rasikas over the years. You can fulfill my dream. Anywhichway please let me know of your live musical concert. A part of your being dies whenever a classical musician dies. I was fortunate to listen to Kishoriji’s mother and Kishoriji.

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