Monday, April 19, 2010

Who is Gauhar Jaan?

Author Vikram Sampath confesses to being besotted with Gauhar Jaan, a high-brow Hindustani classical singer and courtesan who spent her last years at the Mysore Palace. There are however, no reasons to her death, only piles of hospital bills, a death certificate and miscellaneous memories, capsuled in time at the Palace’s archives.

Sampath stumbled upon the existence of Gauhar by chance, during his research on another book. His curiosity about her soon turned into an obsession which led him through the by lanes of Kolkata, where she attained fame, the alleys of Azamgarh, her birthplace, and the ruins of the Rampur Palace, where she spent some years, among other destinations. In his recent book, My Name is Gauhar Jaan, Sampath documents the life, love and tragedy of Gauhar’s life.

The inimitable Gauhar Jaan; (inset) her records She was born in 1873, in Azamgarh as Angelina Yeoward to an Armenian Christian couple. Her father, William was an engineer and her mother Victoria a musician. The marriage ended as a result of varied interests and Victoria moved to Banaras with her daughter in tow. There she converted to Islam and changed her name to Malka Jaan and Angelina’s to Gauhar Jan.

Full report here Bangalore Mirror

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