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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Yesudas' remarks on Indian women wearing jeans

                         I hope all of you had nice Dussera vacation this year before heading back to work. This Gandhi Jayanthi was celebrated with a fervor of different kind. Our honourable Prime Minister announced on this day with a mission to clean up India - Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. October 2nd is also observed as the birth anniversary of another great human being and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who is more remembered for the slogan 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan'.But his birthday is always overshadowed by the same of the father of our nation.
                                  On October 2nd this year, along with Gandhiji, another celebrity who made into news was our singer K J Yesudas. He was invited by a voluntary organization to deliver a speech for Gandhi Jayanthi celebrations. Had he made a general speech about Gandhiji and services that voluntary organizations deliver, the news item might or might not have appeared in the local page. We would not have known that he went and gave a speech. But now, everybody knows that he went and gave the speech thanks to his controversial statements. Why should a revered singer suddenly be concerned that when women wear jeans it is a cause of 'trouble' for others and that those parts that need to be covered should be covered. He did not touch the point that men wearing jeans (the more torn the jeans are, more fashionable) is also alien to our culture, and that they should be wearing dhotis and jubbahs all the time to adhere to our culture. Had he generalized this statement commenting on both the genders, would it have created so much row? I do not know. Maybe his intentions are good. Nobody knows. Media organizations and Women's groups are quick to react to his sensitive (or insensitive) remarks telling that it is unfortunate that he should talk like that when there are so much atrocities against women going on in our country. Who has succeeded or won in these at the end of the day? Media groups, women's organizations, public? You guessed it right, it is Yesudas himself. He has succeeded in creating a needless storm to be in news and social media for sometime. Did he resent or apologize having made those statements? No. I may be right or not, but he may be silently enjoying all these reactions around him. Had we all remained quiet and ignored his remarks, would he have felt the same way? I doubt it.
                                                 Famous personalities, politicians, or celebrities making controversial statements is nothing new. If they are men, mostly the topics will be related to women so that the sensation will be more. A few days back, Hema Malini made a comment related to Brindavan widows. It did spark a row. Why do these celebrities make these statements? Do their statements improve the functioning of our society? I doubt it. They succeed in stirring a series of heated arguments and discussions for sometime until the next major incident turns up. Social media and TV channels will be full of angry responses and demands for apology from that personality. Are these all waste of energy and time? Celebrities who are used to media and public attention, crave for the same when they grow old or forced out of the public arena. They look for ways to be in the news once a while and this is one of them. Sometimes, the best reaction to their statements is no reaction. So folks and social media, as much as possible please minimize the discussions and heated arguments when those so called controversial remarks are made and live as you please. Nobody wins here except the person who made those statements.
                                             So Shri Yesudas, thanks a lot as your talk about what should be and what should be not about our Indian culture made me write another article to add to my blog. :)


Friday, September 19, 2014

The man who 'mandolinized' carnatic music - U. Srinivas

          Repeating the line from Elton John's 'Candle in the wind'- It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind.

Hi friends,
                 For more than a month this space has been remaining idle and I keep searching for topics to write. It can be 'writer's block' or simply some other excuse. But now I am back again and not with happiness that I have found something to write, but with a heavy heart. September 19, 2014 will remain a sad day for me and other music lovers due to the sudden and untimely death of U Srinivas who was more recognized as Mandolin Srinivas. If chess is to Vishwanathan Anand, saxophone to Kadri Gopalnath, so was the western instrument Mandolin very unique to U Srinivas. It takes so much courage, commitment and will power to bring in something new and make it widely popular especially in the ocean of Carnatic music. Like guitar and violin (or fiddle), mandolin is a predominantly a western instrument belonging to the lute family and today when I 'wikied' for the word Mandolin, I found a lengthy detail related to the instrument, but mostly related to western countries and when I pressed 'Ctr+F' I could find some four lines about our  U Srinivas tucked somewhere. When I read the list of famous Mandolin performers, it was lengthy and all of them are from Western world, except for U. Srinivas which I could find only with the help of Ctr + F. Thanks to Srinivas, I can distinguish the sound of mandolin with so much ease and I never cared to notice how the instrument looked like. Only after hearing the news of his death, I searched for the images of mandolin to see how it looked like. If some are born to make path breaking inventions and discoveries during their lifetime, Srinivas with the help of his father discovered that Carnatic music can be played in mandolin also. The initial training was given by his father who discovered the talent in Srinivas. He sent him to a guru but as the guru  did not know how to play the mandolin, he would sing the song so that Srinivas could play the song in the instrument. Before anybody realized it, he started giving concerts with his instrument at the tender age of 9. He had given concerts throughout the world, and I think he deserved more than 'Padmashree' award conferred by the Indian Government. But now, it is too late and we can console ourselves by telling that this unique personality is above these civilian awards. All through his life, his name was associated with mandolin. We cannot separate mandolin and Srinivas unlike Lalgudi Jayraman, Kunnukudi Vaidyanathan, S Balachander (Veena fame)........


                                                        Because I am an ardent listener of carnatic music and trained in the same, I grew up listening to the music in our radio and good old Doordarshan channel. I am not fortunate enough to see this man's live performance. As he belongs to my era, U Srinivas was a kind of hero to me like Vishwanathan Anand. I can never forget his smile that he used to have when he was performing. He always used to smile at his accompanists while he was playing his dear instrument. That smile used to say all. For him it was a plaything with which he could play in any way he wanted to. During the Doordarshan days, I used to wait every Sunday afternoon to watch 'Spirit of Unity' program in which music and dance programs were aired. I had watched lots of his performances in those episodes. He also used to come to Trivandrum to give concerts at Soorya cultural programs held at an auditorium. The sound of mandolin is not subdued like veena and not heightened like violin, and it stands out on its own. Srinivas brought in mandolin and merged with Carnatic music in such a manner that we feel that this is suitable to Carnatic music just like Veena, flute and violin.
                                             I am never a fan of child prodigies because I believe that they achieve too much too soon and they have nothing else left to achieve for the rest of their lives. I am amazed why death snatches them away earlier than other normal mortals. Srinivas used to have personal problems and that maybe one of the reasons for his very untimely death. Unless these personalities live to be nonagenarians, we can never imagine that there is death waiting for them at their doorstep. As I finish writing this emotional article, 'Vatapi Ganapathim' which he played in his instrument keeps ringing in my ears.
                   Mandolin Srinivas, we thought you were immortal, and of course you are immortal through mandolin. Long live the one and only mandolin genius!