Mumbai, Feb. 16 -- There are several regrets in my life; one of them is not having listened to Ustad Vilayat Khan live in concert. For many like me who had no access to the maestro and for others who perhaps did, a book like Namita Devidayal's The Sixth String of Vilayat Khan becomes imperative. At the beginning, the author states her intention when she declares, "I have tried to create an impressionistic fluid portrait of a magnificent artiste and a fragmented human being." Biographies in India and particularly those dealing with performing artists are often hagiographic. So it was reassuring to read that the author has no illusions about her subject. Vilayat Khan's story has the tropes of the normative rags-to-riches saga. He lost his fat...