Uma Vasudev tells us little about how she happened to choose the charismatic Hariji as subject for a biography. But one can only be happy that she undertook the task. The book is not a chronological telling of one of the best-loved musicians of our times. It is not a sociological inquiry into the background of the Hindustani classical music scene. The narrative remains simple, even simplistic, matching the simple and transparent personality of the subject. Yet it is a story that will bring credit to the recording of the lives of our musical maestros.
The best and most valuable portions of the book pertain to the relationship between Hariji and his Guruma, the reclusive genius Annapurna Devi, who initiated him to the higher mysteries of music. The first time she heard him, she said, "All that you did just now is useless. It is like a monkey’s dance. You’ll have to be like an elephant, slow and steady." To prove his seriousness, Hariji promised to start afresh with her by changing the position of holding the bansuri and playing with his left hand, a promise he stuck to.