Posts Tagged ‘Dhondutai Kulkarni’

Review of Devidayal’s Music Room

January 25, 2008

Jayan reads Devidayal’s The Music room, and recommends it strongly:

Though this is biographical in nature, and not having most of the fictional qualities, Namita Devidayal uses the method of writing, which is a combination of both styles, retaining the admiration of the art and the gurus as you often observe in biographies, as well as the use of language as in fiction writings. At no point of time she is away form the events and the stories, always retains her ( and the readers) interest in the stories and anecdotes. A very well written book and great value to someone like me who has near zero knowledge of the Hindustani Music and its heroes.

He also collects several relevant links towards the end of his post; take a look!

Trailer for a book!

December 31, 2007

I think, in Bengali the same word is used for both books and movies (Boi?). In any case, we usually see trailers to promote movies and excerpts to promote books. However, Random House India (their publicity manager tells me in a comment) has made a trailer for one of their publications: Namita Devidayal’s The Music Room. I like the idea. It is a nice trailer too (I think you should have flash enabled to see it). Take a look!

Deeply layered and appreciative

December 10, 2007

That is how Lakshmi Subramanian describes Namita Devidayal’s The Music Room:

The book is about many things even as it attempts a personal excursus into the world of Hindustani classical music seen through the prism of individual teachers and practitioners, who remain in spite of their age and absence connected in a living present mediated through the actual practice of music and of listening, as well as through a sensitised space of affect produced and reproduced by anecdotes that remain the backbone of any social history of music and its makers. Here, Namita Devidayal makes a major contribution and shows us how much one can do with anecdotes and write a book about the troubled and troubling history of music in modern India, of its individual practitioners without ever losing either that sense of deep appreciation and affection for the art form and its eccentric artists or that critical faculty which can distinguish between flattery and conviction, myth-mania and creative imagination. This is a welcome change, for the recent crop of anecdote-based anthologies have remained who’s who of musicians, with the same cycle of stories churned out endlessly and without context.

The Music Room on the other hand, is a very different kind of biography. While at a very obvious and simple level, it is the story of a specific musician cum teacher, Dhondutai Kulkarni and her very special relationship with the author who became her disciple at the tender age of 11, it reveals a more complex and compelling narrative of individual musicians and patrons, who constituted the changing world of Hindustani classical music in the 20th century. The circumstances in which the author herself came to learn music and how the experience intersected somewhat curiously with her social and socialising profile are very well drawn, and speak volumes for the changing social context of modern urban India. The cameo like impressions that we get of Dhondutai’s teacher, the legendary and mercurial Kesar Bai, are wonderful examples of the way a sensitive reading of anecdotes can help excavate what is ultimately a deeply layered and complex story of personal aspirations, disappointments and confusion enhanced by the enormous social changes that transformed the milieu of music performance in modern India. The simplicity with which she records her own teacher’s apparently ‘Hindu’ sensibilities that preferred to see her guru Alladiya Khan as a Brahmin in disguise and at the same time her utter and complete devotion to him and his family speak eloquently of the limiting nature of modern categories associated with identity politics that have erased the infinite richness and depth of old and enduring social and artistic interactions.

Take a look!

Wow! I must read that book!

September 27, 2007

In 1977, the year she passed away, Kesarbai Kerkar’s unforgettable rendition of raga Bhairavi, “Jaat kahan ho”, literally reached the celestial heights. This happened not because of her divine vocal talent (Tagore had conferred on her the title, “Surashri”, after an earth-shattering performance in Calcutta), and turned out to be a different kind of apotheosis. In fact, it was the Voyager spacecraft that carried her recorded voice to outer space, along with a selection of several other immortal melodies.

Many years later, Namita Devidayal learnt about this fascinating journey from a mischievously cryptic remark made by her guru, Dhondutai Kulkarni: “Did you know that Kesarbai’s music is circulating through the solar system?” “I gave my teacher a bemused look,” Devidayal confesses, “but suspended disbelief for the story that would follow, for I knew it would be charming, even if apocryphal”.

From Somak Ghosal’s review in the Telegraph of Namita Devidayal’s  book The Music Room. This is the first time I am reading this story–even Sheila Dhar does not inform us of this facet of Kerkar’s music; and, just for this story, I would like to own The Music Room.