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Veejay Sai is a well-known award-winning writer, editor and a culture critic. He has written and published extensively on Indian classical music, theatre, food, travel, fashion and performing arts. He loves traveling and researching literary and cultural history. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
Sai is Indian classical music/dance critic and
of the Book: Two Men and music Nationalism in the making of Indian
Author: Janaki Bakhle
Publisher: Permanent Black
Price: Indian rupees 350/- (paperback)
Reviewed by: Veejay Sai
There is almost no post-colonial academic literature available on Indian classical music. Most of the books on music have often been song books with notations, bad biographies of artists or pointless coffee table books filled with pictures and nothing more serious. For scholars and students who like to study this tradition of performing art under the light of how it influenced nationalist opinions, Janaki Bakhles book is a must-read. Janaki Bakhle is an assistant professor of history at the Columbia University who likes to identify herself as a historian of music. The book deals with how the ancient un-documented tradition of Hindustani classical music took a progressive tangent under the influences of two men, V.N.Bhatkhande and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar who are credited with institutionalizing the art to give it a distinctive shape and identity to what it is in its present day.
Towards the end of 19th century, Indian classical music which was bereft of any particular ideology, religious groups ownership and ethnic identity suddenly became the time pass of the countrys academia and scholars. The devoted nationalist Paluskar wanted to cleanse it of its bawdy association and put it in the service of Hindu proselytizing while Bhatkhande hoped that through systemic classification and categorization, music would become a modern national academic art avoiding all religious entanglement.
Janakis extensive research in the modernization of Marathi theatre and how it influenced classical music traditions in west India, the role of colonial and bureaucratic rulers in patronage and how some lesser-known gharanas grew is impressive. Looking into a performing art as an object of historical enquiry, its role in the process of nation-building in colonial india, as well as the various transformations in the pedagogies of it gives a completely fresh and original perspective of history of the country as such and Janakis study comes across as a very genuine attempt. There is an extensive bibliography and index in the end for those research scholars who are interested to really pursue further study. This book surely needs a sequel, considering the amount of sparse literature available in this field.
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