I recently read the music Room by Namita Devidayal and Reviewed it for a paper Here is the review.
Inside The Music Room
The tradition of Indian Classical music has always been hailed with a sense of piety and grandeur, a sterling example of how an oral tradition uplifts the culture of a society through centuries and generations. The Music Room by Namita Devidayal gently nudges the reader into a journey about this tradition its magic, mysteries, the unspoken rules and the hidden layers.
The book is a biography the author has written about her Guru, a lesser known but very valuable musician in the Indian terra – Dhondutai Kulkarni, the student of the legendary Kesarbai Kerkar. It discusses the complexities of the Guru-Shishya Parampara, the vagaries of patronage in Classical music. The author locates the narrative from the early 20th Century to very much the present by highlighting the social contexts in which these traditions have lived, evolved and changed; her own journey from a privileged Mumbai to her teachers middle class existence; from the juxtaposition of Dhontutai’s Brahminical background to that of a more glamorous culture of the Bai’s - intersections that seriously determined access and possibilities of pursuing classical music and performance in India. Perhaps the only point of disconcertion is the placement of the self the author has indulged in – her wonderful voice, the “choti” Kesar – not unusual for a musician to revel in one’s creative strength. Maybe for Dhondutai it also met her deep sense of commitment to taking this impeccable tradition forward.
The deceptive simplicity in writing is a pleasure and through the anecdotes, personal experiences and narratives, the book fulfills a void in literature that so exists in the world of Indian music. A must read for music lovers and those who want to love music. As a musician belonging to the same tradition of Classical music I can say with a fair deal of conviction the book is a wonderful endorsement of the feelings, emotions, passion and frustrations of a whole fraternity of musicians out there!