31 July 2011

The Music Room

Read 29 June 2011

This book is more than a story – it’s a tribute from a student to its teacher, to the generations of musicians and their struggles to create, excel in the musical gems and pass them to the next generations through tough training and trust, the history of the rise of a classical music empire and inheritance, the anecdotes and inspiring stories which live by word of mouth, and surely it is the soul of music – so gentle and pure!! I read somewhere – there is no one who does not like music and if there is he is a devil for sure. 
Dhondu 'Tai'
Kesar 'Bai'
This book  brings to life all aspects and facets of a musician and an artist - the ‘religious singers’ who sing to appease Gods, ‘entertainers’ who sing to appease audience, ‘performers’ who sing to appease the art and then there are teachers who sing to teach and pass on the legacy for future. I did not ever think that such great music and musicians took birth in small towns of Maharashtra like Kolhapur & Sangli. Also the usage of Tai and Bai especially in names of Maharashtrian and Goan women which actually relate to their biological cycle: “tai” is assumed at the crack of puberty and automatically turns to “bai” at the conclusion of menopause.  As for women over 60 as the self-righteous virgins – we call them “Lata-didi.”
Alladiya Khan with his son Burji Khan (left)
and grandson Azzizuddin Khan
The narration at the back of the book says it all - ‘This is the story of three great musicians – two became India’s most legendary singers – one remained unknown.’ The story begins with Namita as a child sent to study classical music from Dhondutai who is a veteran in music and has preferred dedication to music than disturbances and diversions of married life. Through her Namita explores the musical dynasty - the founder of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana, Alladiya Khan and the fiery and enigmatic performer Kesarbai Kerkar. The story of dedication and aspiration. How Alladiya Khan found this new style of singing and the Gharana only in his attempt to develop a new style after he lost his voice. How Kesarbai known for her art as well as her sharp tongue, became the performer she was in an age when singing women were a taboo. How they pursued music despite financial issues, family pressures, public opinions and criticism.
Dhondu Tai - The teacher

There were so many things to love in the book. The warm relationship between Namita and her teacher is like a relationship of a grandchild with the grandmother or a city person with his hometown or a grown up person with his favourite childhood toy. The incidents and  anecdotes warm your heart and connect you to the story as if grandmother is narrating them while sitting in a cosy blanket on a winter evening. No words of mine can ever do justice to this book and the legends. But I will summarise it with the opening lines of the book which perfectly speak my feelings for the book.

A raga should be performed such that, within a few minutes, both the performer and the audience should be able to see it standing in front of them.... – Vilayat Khan , Sitar player

Wish to Buy The Music Room

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