By Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
Mami 1: “ஏன் இந்த பிள்ளையாண்டனுக்கு இந்த வக்ர புத்தி. நல்ல சரீரத்தையும் சாரீரத்தையும் பகவான் கொடுத்திருக்கான். ஏன் இப்படி இந்த புனித மேடையை களங்கப்படுத்துகிறான். — Yen intha pillayandanukku intha Vakra puthi. Nalla sareerathaiyum SaareerathIyum Bhagavan koduthirukkan. Yen iPpadi intha punidha medayai kalangapaduthuran” … “I now know why he is not now so well liked and even boycotted”. -Why is this boy behaving like this? Skewed mindset. God has given him handsome features and a sweet voice. Why is he then tainting this divine platform”.
That was enough of a prompt for me to make my silent statement to his loud one. Stage a walkout, not to pee but flee. From the middle seat, to make my own terrible statement, to physically disturb the settling down ‘rasikas’.
Why do sabhas entertain this guy? He comes to ‘entertain’ for all the wrong reasons. He ‘uses’ the platform to make a ‘loud and lousy statement’. He is pandering to whom? Responding and challenging whom? Just to play contrarian. Be noticed , even if condemned and reviled. He revels in notoriety. He taunts the tradition. Yet, the tradition bound sabhas play footsie with him and their platform is tainted with just the looks he sports.
What is the message? Wearing a red and black round neck Tshirt, full sleeved. And spread his arms before he began so that we saw what he wanted us to see. He was not in the customary Carnatic music platform uniform. It is supremely sublime be it in pristine white shirt or a kurta or a colorfully designed hand spun one. What an understatement that is or would be for the artistes to display their wares and dexterity and not their wardrobes. Sorry, T M Krishna you have got it all wrong, even if you think you are bad have a right.
Yes, you are supremely talented. That is god’s gift. You may not admit it. That is fine. You have honed your skills. You may be a genius in the art. But your eccentricity is a spoiler. The audience come to ‘gape’ at you. They close their eyes to hear you. Because they can’t stand your looks like this. It does not jell with what comes out of your vocal cords. They are miles apart.
It is a given you are a liberal with a capital L. You would love to be cancelled. You would accuse us of wokism. But what we see- not hear- is vomitism. Mind you, we are not idiots. We are smart. We can see through the game of hypocrisy you are playing. You want to perform only in ‘free’ concerts. But would like to be ‘paid’ by sponsors. ( we need transparency on this issue. as all kinds of stories are doing the rounds).
The violinist Hemalatha is seated behind you. Ghatam comes ahead. What is the message? Has anyone seen such likes. The moment the curtains go up- all this is seen by the full hall- spilling over to the outside ‘screens’ – to gasp. They shut their eyes in shock and despair. Yet wait to listen. They console themselves that such ‘eccentricity comes with the territory of rare talents’. Thanks. Not for me.
He picks his Sabha. His platform. He boycotts Margazhi Music festival as it is ‘communal’. Most of the ‘suckers’ who sit and endure his concerts are soiled with the same ‘communal’ brush. It is time the rasika made a statement.
One remembers a concert, not long ago, at NGS, he began with a Mangalam. Concluded with Mahaganapathim. Why? What was the message? Nothing. He was being childish to attract our attention. Even if for all the wrong reasons. The full hall gasped. Murmured that it was insulting to their intelligence and passion. Yet, they sat through ( including me) because he was a ‘rare talent’.
My foot! It is unfair and unjust to the ‘rare talent’ that he is and has. It is insulting. He has the prerogative to do what he seeks to do, with it. But not exhibit his ‘eccentricities’ in public platforms as if being weird and wonky was magical. It is not. It is ugly. Let us call it out for what it is.
He is unlikely to change. The Magsasay winner may get worse. For, he wants us to change. Change from what to what. Does he mean to suggest that rest of the pack of artistes, from the past and his peers were not in his league? Being tradition bound was stupid? That you must look, be seen and behave nutty to make a bold statement? Against whom? For what? Except revealing one’s nuttiness it does little beyond.
Time for us to stand up for the beautiful tradition that Carnatic music is founded on and in. Flourished and flourishing in. We do not need the likes of these crazies for it to stay ahead, as a sublime cultural form. Such ‘rare talents’ do not belong here. But sabhas are a political minefield. It is as polarized as between the conservatives v. liberals and in betweens.
T M K need not be ‘cancelled’. His would love to be. He is no woke. Truth to tell. ,he is anti woke. Just let him be. Ignore him. Shun him. He adores and thrives in adverse publicity including the likes or dislikes as in this piece.
If he is a ‘rare talent’, and makes a statement, I too am a ‘rare talent’ to write and so I make mine, you see.
( Author is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)