The history of Indian music has always been shrouded in legends, myths and countless stories. We hardly know about those who got to the top, forget those who were talented, but remained undiscovered. Namita Devidayal, through her book 'The Music Room' delves on the life of three music legends - Alladiya Khan, Kesarbai and Dhondutai. While all of the three were legends in their own right, only the first two got noticed by people. Namita tries to bring forth the story of Dhondutai, and the others, through her eyes.
The story of 'The Music Room' revolves around the life of Dhondutai, the only remaining student of the finest singers of the Jaipur gharana: Alladiya Khan and Kesarbai Kerkar. Namita, when ten-years old, is taken to Dhondutai, for taking music lessons. Living in sub par conditions, in a cramped one room flat, she sees a glimpse of Kesarbai in the little girl and takes her under tutelage. With this begins Namita's long association of learning with and admiration for Dhondutai, which continues for almost three decades.
Though the book is dedicated to Dhondutai, the author does provide a glimpse into the lives of Alladiya Khan, Bhurji Khan and Kesarbai Kerkar, through the Dhondutai's eyes. Through 'The Music Room', Namita takes the readers back in history, that of the Jaipur Gharana, in particular, and Hindustani music, in general. She weaves the past and the present with such a commendable ease that one cannot help but feel admiration for her. The book gives an overview of what a gharana is and how each gharana differs from the rest.
Namita Devidayal is a relatively unknown name in the world of books and literature. She works as a journalist with one of the leading newspapers of Indian - 'The Times of India'. With 'The Music Room', her first book, she has made an entry into the literary world. And, we must say, what an entry! She started writing the work when she was living in New York and took a creative writing class at the Columbia University. It was her friend who pushed her to write a novel, when she showed her work. The rest, as they all say, is history!