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“Gauhar Jaan used technology to liberate herself from exploitation”

Special Correspondent

Biography of the first Indian who recorded her voice released


“Books like these bring back history to the modern generation and provide you a sense of pride in your rich heritage and culture”


— Photo: S.S.Kumar

E.S.L. Narasimhan, Governor of Andhra Pradesh (right), launching the book ‘My Name is Gauhar Jaan', at a function held in Chennai on Wednesday. Vikram Sampath, author of the book, is in the picture.

CHENNAI: My Name is Gauhar Jaan!- The Life and times of a musician, the biography of the first Indian who recorded her voice, was released by Governor of Andhra Pradesh E.S.L. Narasimhan in Chennai on Wednesday.

“Reading the book left me with a strange mix of sadness and happiness,” said the Governor.

“When Gauhar Jaan excels, you feel happy and when she goes through pangs of separation, pangs of deprivation you feel sad,” he said, adding that the author's in-depth research into various aspects and places is in fact mind boggling, given the constraints of availability of time/material and far flung places.

The Governor said “books like these bring back history to the modern generation and provide you a sense of pride in your rich heritage and culture and does leave an impact on the reader.”

N. Murali, Senior Managing Director, Kasturi & Sons Ltd, said the book was in line with the current trend of documenting the life of great musicians, while earlier it was considered that art was higher than the artists.

“Gauhar Jaan used technology to liberate herself from the exploitation in the hands of patrons of arts. She really democratised music and she was ahead of her time,” he said, recalling how male musicians of earlier days refused to record their voice fearing that doing so would affect their voice.

Author of the book Vikram Sampath said Gauhar Jaan visited Chennai in 1910 and her concert in Victoria Hall was a great success. Enthralled by her music, Veena Dhanammal hosted a dinner and she even taught her a Thyagaraja Keertha in suruti raag. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar learnt a few bhajans from her. She cut close to 600 records. V. Ramnarayan, Editor of the Sruti magazine, said it was not a hagiography, but an honest book.

Jayanthi Kumaresh, veena player and teacher of Vikaram Sampath and historians S. Muthaiah and V. Sriram participated.

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