I am back to my space after almost six months. Everytime I think about writing something I plan it but some how never make it here… But let me see whether I do after this post.. Being the first post in this year I wish everyone a Happy New Year.. Better late than ever :)
Disclaimer: I am mere carnatic rasika who has no personal vengeance against the artist being spoken here, but its just disappointment that has lead to this outburst.
Last weekend I geared up for TMKs concert. I must say I have always refrained from idolizing any musician. Of course there are exceptions like GNB, MLV, Lalgudi. TMK performed at the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts on 5th April, on account of the Mahaswami Sangeethanjali. Being Maha Periyava's sangeethanjali I expected all songs on goddess Kamakshi. Well, I was right on that but the concert was a sheer disappointment. No wonder how big you are, you aren't bigger than the art form is what I like to say Mr Krishna after hearing the concert. The amount of arrogance he displayed during the concert is something that can't be digested by any rasika.
He started off the concert with a brisk saveri varnam. This master piece ofcourse didn't receive the attention that it required. Well I am a traditionalist when it comes to raga selection. I prefer a rakthi raga like Hamsdhwani or Nattai after the varnam. But nevertheless he jumped into keeravani. Punniyam oru kodi, a nice composition on Mahaperyival by Periyasami Thooran lacked lustre. Krishna in my mind wasn't confident while rendering the composition. He is the same person who has repeatedly said on many occasions that unless the artist is confident and can render the composition with full essence, shouldn't take it up on the concert platform. Well on this occasion Mr.Krishna was fooling himself. A krithi that talks about the greatness of the saint didn't kindle the emotion of the rasika when rendered by the artist. He wasn't sure of the lyrics and on many occasions I could see him moving away from the mike and thus missing those words and escaping from the audience. The next step was those gimmicky swaras at 'Anai Kamakshi Pole'. What put me off was the frequent display of unwanted combination of swaras.. Well everyone knows that Keeravani is a sampoorna ragam but singing swaras plainly and just jumbling up and down doesn't prove an artists vidvat. And Krishna according me was just trying to woo the audience since I guess he must have realised that the krithi rendition didn't get the response.
So what next… Well Krishna took up Kalyani, another grand raga that failed to impress. Birana Varana is a wonderful composition of Syama Sastri. In my opinion Syama Sastri's compositions are best of the lot.. Its like a tender coconut. One needs to break it to drink the sweet nectar. Anyways, Krishna's nerval at Syama Krishna Sodari seemed pointless. Well he was just revolving around the Ni and Sa repeatedly and jumping back to Ga. What was the point when the jeeva swaras didn't get the treatment that it needed? I just tried to sit back hoping the next one would be good. But he proved me wrong! In the beginning I had said that Krishna's arrogance in the concert put me off. Not all would concur with me. Ananda Samrakshitoham is a compostion of Muthswamy Dikshitar in the raga Ananda Bhairavi. Ananda Bhairavi traditionally is sung with a chat sruthi dhaivatham but in the Dikshitar School it is sudha dhaivatam. Well to my knowledge listeners are used to the former one. Krishna did announce this, I appreciate him for that but his comment, "Please don't take this as a lec-dem and this is just to show that I am right" was unwarranted. I think audience would appreciate when a musician points out the difference. But here he was just trying to prove that he was right. Even this can be tolerated. But he narrated an incident that really shocked me. Apparently the Kanchi Mahaswami had once told DK Pattamal that this krithi is not to be sung in concert. When someone like him has adviced DKP, then according to me its best to be avoided. But common guys being TMK at his best, this artist says "I have learnt it and I am going to sing it." GOD SAVE HIM, for being so rude. The irony was his concert was a sangeethanjali to the great saint. Few listeners sitting behind me were stunned with this comment. One Mama even said, "Ivalvu garvam eduku"( Why so much ego). Well all I could say to Mama was "please go and ask him."
The concert then proceeded with a rare composition of Tyagaraja in Raga Kuntalavarali and the krithi was 'kali narulaku mahimalu'. I think it is a nice composition and wonder why it isn't so popular like other composition in the same raga. The next rendition in raga varali was no different. Just few ups and down in the gandharam, there was nothing really to appreciate. Bangaru Kamakshi rendition was not up to the mark. But compared to the Keeravani and Anandhabhairavi it was way ahead.
By now Krishna was already half way through and I knew there would a mini RTP. When Krishna started Kamboji, I was thrilled. Being one of my favourites and having heard some mind blowing rendition by MLV and GNB the same morning I was ready for one more dose of Kamboji. Alas, disappointed again. Well if the alapana was a failure then the grand 'Sri Subramanya Namaste' was a disaster. His rendition didn't even bring 1% of the beauty that MD had brought in Kamboji. GNB and ARI renditions that come to my mind everytime I think of this majestic piece. Also, having read the ARIs episode with the Mahaperiyaval, I am moved to tears listening to this whenever rendered by these maestros. Seriously Krishna was in no mood that day. Neither did his krithi rendition bring in the beauty of the raga nor did the neraval and the swaram. What surprised even more was when he took up 'AsavAdi sakala dEva vanditAya varENyAya' for neraval and not 'tApatraya haraNanipuNa'. Well I have no issues with that but he completely messed up the neraval and the swarams. And then the tani, with the concert putting me off, I really didn't give a heed to the Tani though Amrit and Arun Prakash did a good job.
As usual, known for his 15 min RTP, TMK announced that he will sing a RTP. Again on this occasion, his comments were unwarranted. I have always wondered why sing an RTP for the sake of it? Instead you can very well fill that half hour with some nice tukkadas. I find it weird when people say that they were disappointed when the artist didn't treat them with RTP. My argument is an artist should take up RTP when they have time and should at least allocate half hour to 45 mins for that. On this note I think I should appreciate Sudha Ragunathan and Sanjay Subrahmanyam from the current lot who have always mesmerised me with some of their brilliant RTPs. So here was an RTP in Athana. Athana in my opinion is not the best of choices for an elaborate raga alapana. But if the artist has taken up then he should prove his prowess by not being too repetitive and bring in the essence of the raga or may be sing some unique combinations. Neither of this was seen in Krishna's rendition. So here is one more RTP gone down the drain… Some might even ask me how many times have I been subjected to this torture. Well folks this is the third in less than a year that Krishna has sung these super mini RTPs. Once it was Khamas at the Mulund Fine Arts and the next time it was Keeravani at Shanmukhananda and now Athana. On all three occasions I was just left with a question 'WHY'. Well only Krishna can answer it and having experienced his rude nature I know he wouldn't reply…
I think the so called post RTP pieces weren't good either… At the end of the day what really bothered me was why aren't people talking against such concerts? Why are people blindly accepting what he does? He is a good artist but that doesn't mean that he can take the rasikas for granted. I am lamenting here since in forums I see a cult behaviour and that talking against TMK is just impossible and his attitude is in fact widely appreciated... In fact during the recent Madras Music Festival a relative of mine requested TMK to sing Devi Brova (Raga: Chintamani, Syama Satri-Composer) and to my dismay he said, "You need not tell me what I should sing, I know what to include and what not to." If he didn't want then he could have politely replied. Why such arrogance. We all know that such arrogance would only pull him down.. But all I can say that given the vidvat, the artist can be more humble towards the rasikas… I know artist do have their bad days and last Sunday was one of them for TMK but it was his attitude that put me off, more than the concert…So what a come back…Ain't it my friends :)