The end of the Season is usually marked by a dinner hosted by Nalli Kuppusami Chetty, for all the artistes who have won awards in the music festival. This is usually held early in January at the New Woodlands Hotel.
Archive for December, 2011
Just as we once had the dreaded star mother in the world of films, we have the star father/husband in Carnatic music.
Given all the hoopla about the Season, a study on how many people it actually caters to would be interesting. Assuming that the top 20 Sabhas account for 80 per cent of the crowd, each has a seating capacity of 1,000 on an average, and all of them are catering to packed houses, the number would be around 20,000. A miniscule figure indeed.
Published in The Hindu today – http://www.thehindu.com/arts/music/article2758683.ece
Why do artistes need written copies of lyrics to sing from despite having sung the same song a million times?
The recent monsoons have been as intensive as those of the past six years, if not more so. And the first casualties have been the roads of the city. Of course, it ought to come as no surprise, given the quality of road laying that is practised. It is an open secret that not all the money allocated for such activities ever gets spent on what it is intended for and contractors need to perforce cut corners if they need to make a profit. And given the steadily increasing traffic, the roads are being put to great pressure and very few manage to stand the strain. In the light of this, the new administration at the city corporation has announced that it would be looking at concrete roads as the panacea.
The announcement was made after the usual accusations (now customary whenever there is a regime change in the State) about the previous regime having allowed the use of substandard materials. And it is now understood that within the next five years, Rs 2500 crores will be spent on laying 1100 km of concrete roads in Greater Chennai. This will be a long-term solution says the Government, claiming that concrete roads have an average lifespan of at least 25 years. The roads to be thus relaid will be of international standard promises the Government.
The advantages of switching over to concrete roads are many. Apart from their long life, they also save on fuel, provide for better driving comfort and will use cement, a plentifully available commodity in the country. Maintenance costs will also be lower.
But there are several drawbacks as well. Firstly, concrete roads require a long time period for laying and setting, as much as 28 days for a one km stretch as opposed to a bitumen topped road that requires one fourth the time. And during the time they are being laid, traffic will have to be completely closed, something that is unthinkable in this city where work on the Metro is already putting commuters to great hardships. Bitumen roads also cost only one-fourth of what is the outlay for concrete roads. Next is the impossibility of ever cutting up concrete roads to access drains and cables, something that is common practice in our city. The avoidance of such road-cuts entails proper planning before the roads are laid, with ducts for drains and cables that can be independently accessed. Past experience (MRTS et al) has shown our officialdom of being completely incapable of such coordinated activity.
Next, is concrete a solution for a city like ours? These roads have no dust absorption capacity and so that will only increase the particulate content in the atmosphere. Also concrete being white in colour will radiate heat causing ambient temperature to go up. Is this desirable in Chennai that is already witnessing a steady increase in temperatures during summer?
It would be good if the Government ponders over these aspects before jumping headlong into this new technology. But given the speed at which matters are moving, it appears that the minds of the powers-that-be are already made up. In the immediate short-term, patchwork has begun on the roads that have been battered by the recent rains. It would do our officers and ministers a world of good to drive around and see what is ground reality. Once they see the fashion in which patchwork is done and the quality of what has been laid earlier, they may pause to think over whether concrete roads may not be complicating an already difficult situation.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of Papanasam Sivan’s first visit to Madras. Ten years later he was to become a permanent resident.
The month of Margazhi would see him lead the bhajanai around the Kapaleeswarar Temple in the wee hours of the morning. The tradition is being upheld by his daughter Rukmini Ramani and grandson Ashok Ramani.
Published in The Hindu at this link – http://www.thehindu.com/arts/music/article2752814.ece
The problem with most Sabhas is that the Sound Man is not sound.
The Academy had given her name as Kamala Lakshminarayan, which is not what most of her fans would be familiar with. If only we had printed Kumari Kamala… The turnout was disappointing for such a legend and when Dr Pappu read out her profile before she walked on to stage, I was reflecting on what a legend we were privileged to have in our midst. She has in her time, performed before Nehru, danced and acted in films and above all, along with Balasaraswathi and Rukmini Devi, done so much for making Bharata Natyam popular. The Music Academy in a way owes its existence to her, for her performances brought in the money which enabled the institution to build a place of its own.
Kamala came on to stage dressed in traditional dance costume. The body has aged and the voice a tremor but the eyes retain the old sparkle. And when she demonstrated the moves taught by Vazhuvur Ramiah Pillai, we could see that all the old fluidity was intact. She showed how he taught her abhinaya for Tyagaraja’s Sadinchene in Arabhi. It was wonderful.
Then came the anticlimax. She decided to field two of her students from the US to perform two tillanas. This took away 40 minutes from a 60 minute lec dem. And as for their dancing… less said the better. Where was all that she said – subtle expression, fluidity in movement of the arms and power in the legs? All of which she claimed were the hallmarks of Ramiah Pillai?
Why did she do this? Even if she had sat down and explained what she had learnt, we would have come away satisfied. In the end, I felt let down.
The story of how some lecdems were more heat and dust than music