The book has many vignettes about the greats Shivji befriended along the way. A drunken, jealous Mehdi Hasan daring Ghulam Ali to a musical bout in a midnight mehfil or the impish Hariprasad Chaurasia sneaking breakfast up to Zakir Hussain’s room in a Swiss hotel so the broke musical trio could stretch their dollar.
The man once disdained and sidelined has had the last laugh: a swank Pali Hill home, bestselling albums, national honours. Admirably, he uses his pre-eminence to plead for recognition of the accompanist as an artist in his own right. He also emphasises the inclusive, syncretic tradition of our music. Reminds us that the greatest minstrels of Hindu devotional music have been the likes of Ali Akbar Khan, Vilayat Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan: the last incidentally chose to quit Pakistan but not singing "kafir" bhajans.... Politicians who sing those discordant tunes would do well to remember that.