Gauhar Jaan, a simple girl from Calcutta transformed Indian music ever since she became the first Indian to record on a gramophone. Gauhar was born Eileen Angelina Yeoward, an Armenian Christian and later converted to Islam after her mother Victoria Hemmings became Badi Malka Jaan. Malka Jaan was a poet herself and was publishing Urdu verses during her times.
According to Vikram Sampath Gauhar created an exceptional template in order to showcase Hindustani music in a mere three minutes. An accomplishment that inspired Vikram Sampath to write his second book ‘My name is Gauhar Jaan!’-the life and times of a musician. According to him this book was a fortunate accident when he stumbled upon a well-documented archival script about her life. It took Vikram two years of extensive research and assistance from Dr. Suresh Chandvankar of the Society of Indian Records Collectors in Mumbai. It is Suresh who sent him a CD of her songs which managed to inspire him further more. Vikram also spent some of his time in Calcutta where Gauhar spent most of her glorious times. Here he learnt about her discovery by recording expert Frederick Gaisberg and how she through her mesmerizing voice had captured a phenomenal audience in her times. Inspite of a glamour lit life Gauhar died at an early age of 57 in Mysore. She was a pampered extravagant artist with immense accomplishments in Indian music.
Vikram, an engineer by pedagogy scripted his book from information he collated over the years. Vikram was awarded the Fellowship at Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Studies and ‘Splendours of Royal Mysore: The Untold Story of the Wodeyars,’ was his first work. The tone of his book is both historical and that of a biography. It also deals with the advent of the gramophone in England. It also is set in the once rich Bengali society with brief studies of the thumri.
The most notable feature of the book is its author who had a keen interest in the topic. His research shows to be both genuine and offering a historical perspective of Indian music then. It makes an honest effort to bring back the love for Hindustani music in India.