Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review: The Music Room by Namita Devidayal

On the jacket:

When Namita is ten years old, her mother takes her to Kennedy Bridge, a seamy neighborhood in Bombay, home to hookers and dance girls. There, in a cramped one-room apartment lives Dhondutai, the last living disciple of two of the finest Indian classical singers of the twentieth century: the legendary Alladiya Khan and the great songbird Kesarbai Kerkar. Namita begins to learn singing from Dhondutai, at first reluctantly and then, as the years pass, with growing passion. Dhondutai sees in her a second Kesarbai, but does Namita have the dedication to give herself up completely to the discipline like her teacher? Or will there always be too many late nights and cigarettes? And where do love and marriage fit into all of this? 

A bestseller in India, where it was a literary sensation, The Music Room is a deeply moving meditation on how traditions and life lessons are passed along generations, on the sacrifices made by women through the ages, and on a largely unknown, but vital aspect of Indian life and culture that will utterly fascinate American readers.


The Music Room is not just a story, it's a tribute. A brilliant tribute from a student to a teacher. In fact, not just to her teacher, but to the generations of musicians, their hard work and struggles. 

Personally, I am a dunce when it comes to the details of Indian classical music. Like all Bengali mothers, mine sent me for music classes. Neither was I interested in learning, neither did I have the voice. I've always been vary of performing arts, I am more comfortable with my pen and brushes.

So, when I picked up The Music Room, I was cautious. Yes, cautious. What if the book spoke of things which made no sense to me. That would mean I can't do justice to it as a reader, as well as reviewer. Initially I had hoped the book is Devidayal's story of her journey as a musician, but the book has more. Interesting anecdotes throughout, make it very interesting. Everyday conversations between Devidayal and her teacher, Dhondutai let the reader into the world of music.

I really don't want to act spoiler here, but this book has been so informative. Not just informative, it's a good story - touches ones heart. You love music, or/and, you love to read - read this.

My rating : ****/5

[This review is for Random House IndiaThe opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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