‘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.