Book Review – Bani Basu’s Gandharvi


Bani Basu’s Gandharvi is a must-read book for music lovers and if you are a struggling musician then also this book is going to inspire you to the hilt. No impediment is too big to lower your morale and with the iron will you are sure to climb the ladder of success.

If music is the food of love, play on’—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.

Bani Basu’s Gandharvi (Original Bengali Gandharni) tells the story of Apala, her life, and her musical journey. The crests and falls of her life mirror the high and low notes that she is able to sing with equal elan; however, unfortunately, the notes of her life do not have an equally happy ending. In 1993, the original Bengali version of the novel had been published, 24 years later it was translated into English. Post-liberalization India saw sea changes. The urban Indian landscape of 2017, while holding on to some aspects of the past, is now syncretically different than in the 1990s. In the 1990s, a protagonist like Apala would be much more common and acceptable than she would be today.

On a Personal Note

Raised under the strict guardianship of her ‘Jethu’ (father’s elder brother) after the demise of her father, Apala lives in a family that has never acclaimed for her talent and passion for classical music. After winning a prestigious scholarship, Apala expresses her wish to go to Lucknow to study under the great Nazneen Begum, who is dismissed by her guardian as a ‘twaif’ and it is when the first seeds of conflict are sown. He wants to marry Apala off to the first family that shows her interest in her – ironically as they saw her performing at the same function and her husband to be ‘decided’ to marry her.

Bani Basu’s Gandharvi is a tale of a struggling musician who despite all odds never gave up her ambition to be a passionate musician. Amidst struggle and strife, she kept moving and kept her love for music alive. This book gives us a message that with the iron will it’s easy to sail through the toughest of the awful situations and bring home the beacon.

Also, read the inspiring story of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs