Title- Requiem in Raga Janki Author- Neelum Saran Gaur Publisher- Penguin Random House Pages- 370 Rating - 4⭐/5
Set in the city of Allahabad,during early twentieth century. There British rule across India, but Avadhi culture is thriving. In this city where singers, musicians and poets assemble, a star emerges.Janki Bai Ilahabadi also popularly known as 'Chhappan Chhuri' ( due to fifty-six knives-attacked in her youth, that she survives miraculously) Brought up in a nautch house,after the family is abandoned by the father,just after the 56 knives thing, ultimately she rises to become the queen of Allahabad, her voice taking her from penury to palaces and royal durbars.
And the best thing it is based on the real-life story of Hindustani singer Janki Bai Ilahabadi (1880-1934), Writing is so elaborate with beautiful visual and other sensory elements,that you feel what the characters are feeing & smell what they are smelling. But also this is one of those book when you realise that even after 100 pages story has moved forward very less because everything is so elaborate and detailed, if you have loved the God of small things,surely you'll enjoy this,
Requiem in Raga Janki is the beautifully rendered tale of one of India's unknown gems. Moving from Hindustani classical music's earliest times to the age of the gramophone, from Tansen's mysticism to Hassu Khan's stringent opposition of recordings, this is a novel that brings to life a golden era of music through the eyes of a gifted performer.
Requiem in Raga Janki is a historical fiction written by Neelum Saran Gour. The author has written multiple books like Grey Pigeon and Other Stories, Speaking of ’62, Winter Companions and Other Stories, Virtual Realities, Sikandar Chowk Park & Song Without End and Other Stories. She is a professor of English at the University of Allahabad.
The plot is set in the early twentieth century Allahabad, our protagonist is Janki Bai Illahabadi & this is her story. India is still under British rule but culture and art is still flourishing, it has proven to unite people together by not just describing the beautiful facets of life but also raising the voice against oppression. We trace her journey from being abandoned by her father at a young age to get sold along with her mother to a nautch house (kotha), we trace her journey from there to the great artist she came to be. She is also known as Janki ‘Chhappan Chhuri’ & behind this name lies a horrific story but don’t let that define her as she is much more than that. Her art even mesmerized King George V so much that he gifted her with 100 guineas. Do get this book to follow the life of the legendary singer-song writer of India,
I get very excited to read a book about Allahabad or a story set in the city, since it’s my hometown I love to learn about its glorious history or even read fictional works around it. So, when I got a chance to read this is book I was quite excited & luckily it didn’t let me down. We get to know a larger than life character who went through so much in her past but it just made her stronger. The scenes have been described in detail & beautifully, the whole aura of the singer as well as of that particular time period has been entrapped in this book in a way which honestly I haven’t read in a long time. Beautiful cover & title, language is quite easy.