For the first time, 22 of India’s virtuoso come together.
This coffee table book is an absolute exclusive.
For years, I would hear these masters at concerts, baithaks & festivals.
I listened, swayed, swooned, and mesmerized by the celestial music. Realising the work, patience, dedication, creative and sadhana that into creating these masterpieces.
The more I listened, the more my curiosity to know the person behind the music grew. Their persona on stage, the adulation they received from their listeners completely overshadowed the real person, the one I wanted to get close to.
I chose my camera to tell my story, to tell their intimate stories.
I first approached Ustad Zia Mohinuddin Dagar and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, explaining the concept of the book that I wanted to create and how I wanted to showcase them. They graciously agreed and gave me time from their busy concert and teaching schedules. It is these series of images that I used to rope in the rest of the maestros who are part of this book. This is how this book began and thus started my journey of exploration.
Over the last 25 years, I’ve put together exclusive photos, interviews and anecdotes from these greats describing life, family, love and most importantly, music – all in one book.
Who am I?
I’m Viren Desai a freelance Fine Art and Advertising Photographer based in Mumbai.
I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York in 1985. I then freelanced in New York for 2 years, before moving back home to Mumbai in 1987. Since then, I’ve worked for corporate and advertising campaigns for brands like Hero Honda, Visa, Channel V, Concern India, Shrenuj, Ravindra Heraeus, Pepsi and more. My work is available at www.virendesaiphotography.com
I’m also an Indian classical music buff, and used this book to combine both my passions.
Let’s talk about the book
This book is an exploration of the creative and soulful lives of some of the greatest contemporary Indian classical musicians. I have chronicled the time spent with these legends through the camera. Every image in this book has been shot exclusively by me for this project, and captures their lives both on and off stage.
The quotations are drawn from my personal interviews with each artist, trying to understand the real persona behind the music.
This book is one-of-a-kind, with the largest number of geniuses in one book. When you flip through the pages, you will get a feel of the essential personalities of these artists as well as the insight that they have garnered from life and from music. Decades of musical genius, collated knowledge, and dedication to their art and craft, have been synthesised in this book.
Who are the maestros? (in alphabetical order)
1. Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan
2. Ustad Alla Rakha
3. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
4. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi
5. Ustad Bismillah Khan
6. Pandit C.R.Vyas
7. Vidushi Girijadevi
8. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
9. Pandit Jasraj
10. Vidwan L.Shankar (Shenkar)
11. Vidwan Dr.M.Balamuralikrishnan
12. Vidushi M.S.Subbulakshmi
13. Vidushi N Rajam
14. Pandit Ram Narayan
15. Pandit Ravi Shankar
16. Pandit Shivkumar Sharma
17. Vidushi Shobha Gurtu
18. Vidwan T.H.Vinayakram(Vikku)
19. Vidwan T.K.Murthy
20. Ustad Zakir Hussain
21. Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar
22. Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar
Let’s talk numbers.
The book is 288 pages (12’’x 12’’) with 158 colour photographs and 130 black and white photographs. It is divided into 22 chapters, each depicting a single artist. Each chapter opens with a concert picture followed by other images, interspersed with quotes from my interviews with the artists.
Why should you support this book?
To see never before images all shot exclusively for this book and to read about the laughter of Pandit Ravi Shankar, as the pop of my camera strobes matched his notes on the sitar. He asked me jokingly if I had any training in music.
To see the shy smile of Amma Subbulakshmi, teasing me about whether she was a new bride because I was taking so many pictures.
To know about Ustad Bismillah Khan reminiscing about the unforgettable taste of his mother’s ‘gobi ka sabji’.
To find out about the graciousness of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, worrying about how his wife might get upset when I moved his living room furniture about to set up a shot. I promised to set it back as it was and did.
The music of these legends has enriched my life, and that of others, beyond words. As has this journey to create this tome.
A complete digital-offset printed dummy of the book is ready. Currently, I’m looking for funding to help publish this amazing book. I’m grateful for your support. Do order a copy of the book, you can also avail of other special rewards.
Thank you for your time