Singing Gandhi’s India: Music and Sonic Nationalism

By Lakshmi Subramanian
Book Launch
Tuesday, 4th February 2020

Literature Live! Evenings are not generally associated with music, but our next event features the launch of a book on Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite songs and bhajans.

In Singing Gandhi’s India: Music and Sonic Nationalism, the author Lakshmi Subramanian explores the Mahatma’s relationship with music, and how he made it a powerful tool to reach out to people and instill in them the idea of a secular nationalism.

Anil Dharker will be in a brief conversation with the author who will also make a presentation, but the evening will really belong to music with songs rendered by well-known singers Dr Prasanna Mhaisalkar and Pradeep Udhas.

Seating, as usual, is on a first come, first served basis, so do come early for this enthralling evening.


Lakshmi Subramanian

Lakshmi Subramanian has had a long teaching and research career and in that capacity the opportunity of serving a number of universities in India and abroad. This has enabled her to participate actively in framing and teaching history at several levels from the undergraduate to the pre-doctoral level and in translating some of my experience into an advanced text book on Indian History. (History of India, 1757-1857, Orient BlackSwan, 2010) In terms of research and specialized interest, she has been able to successfully carve an important field of India’s cultural history, especially relating to music and performance in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Lakshmi has written extensively on this and continue to explore new ways of understanding the challenges of writing and archiving music history. She has continued to engage with the field of maritime history, in which she was trained. Her initial interest was in exploring the ramifications of Indian capital formations in pre-colonial and early colonial India looking specifically at Gujarat and Bombay in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Subsequently she has looked more closely at social networks including those of piracy and predation in the Indian Ocean and have enjoyed the distinction of making an original contribution to this growing field. Lakshmi’s expertise and interest in business and commercial history has enjoyed a fair degree of recognition on the basis of which she has been invited to coordinate a research network under the India-Europe Advanced Research network for three years from 2018-21.

Anil Dharker

Anil Dharker is a Mumbai-based writer and columnist. At various stages in his life, he has been an engineer on the academic staff of the University of Glasgow, a consultant in a Mumbai architectural firm, a film critic and censor, a promoter of New Cinema with the National Film Development Corporation and an editor successively, ofDebonair, Mid-Day and Sunday Mid-Day, The Independent,and The Illustrated Weekly of India. Dharker has worked in television as producer and anchor, as well as head of a news television channel, then poised for takeoff. He was also, briefly, creative director of the Zee Television network. He is still remembered for his long stint as TV critic at The Sunday Observer, where readers, viewers, producers, Doordarshan directors-general and ministers found his column the one they loved to hate. These were reprinted in an anthology by HarperCollins titled Sorry Not Ready:Television in the Time of PMdarshan. Dharker has written a coffee-table book on Goa; a biography of industrialist OP Jindal, The Man Who Talked To Machines; and a book on Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March, The Romance Of Salt. Recently, he brought out an anthology, Icons: The Men & Women Who Shaped Today’s India.

RSVP & Venue

Experimental Theatre, NCPA

National Center for Peforming Arts, Sir Dorab Tata Road, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400021