Controversy Rocks Carnatic Music World As Music Academy Awards Sangeetha Kalanidhi To TM Krishna

Controversy Rocks Carnatic Music World As Music Academy Awards Sangeetha Kalanidhi To TM Krishna

Several renowned artists have also decided to boycott the annual music festival hosted annually by the Academy in December which, this year, is to be presided over by Krishna.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 08:51 PM IST
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Image Taken from TM Krishna/Facebook |

A major controversy is currently rocking the  world of Carnatic music over the decision of the iconic Music Academy of Chennai to award the prestigious Sangeetha Kalanidhi award to rebel vocalist TM Krishna. Several renowned artists have also decided to boycott the annual music festival hosted annually by the Academy in December which, this year, is to be presided over by Krishna. When contacted by FPJ on Thursday Mr Krishna declined to comment. 

The first shot was fired by Ranjani and Gayathri, highly-acclaimed vocalist-sisters. In an FB post the top notch Carnatic vocalists, Ranjani and Gayatri, announced their decision to boycott the prestigious annual music festival organised by the Academy. The sisters said, "We have communicated our decision to withdraw from participating in the Music Academy’s conference 2024 and from presenting our concert on 25th December." 

"We have made this decision as the conference would be presided over by TM Krishna. He has caused immense damage to the Carnatic music world, wilfully and happily stomped over the sentiments of this community and insulted most respected icons like (Saint) Tyagaraja and MS Subbulakshmi. His actions have tried to spread a sense of shame in being a Carnatic musician and has been exhibited through his consistent denigration of spirituality in music." 

"He has vilified the Carnatic music fraternity that has collectively contributed millions of hours of artistry, hard work and literature. It is dangerous to overlook Mr TM Krishna’s glorification of a figure like EVR aka Periyar who 

1. Openly proposed a genocide of 'brahmins'

 2. Repeatedly called/abused every woman of this community with vile profanity 

3. Relentlessly worked to normalise filthy language in social discourse

"We believe in a value system that respects art and artists, vaggeyakaras (composers), rasikas, institutions, our roots and culture. We will be in moral violation if we were to bury these values and join this year’s conference."

The singing sisters' decision is likely to be followed by other artists who feel that Krishna has created a wholly unnecessary controversy by raising casteist issues in music, specially Carnatic music. "Music knows no barriers of caste and creed. It is unfortunate TM Krishna had manufactured a perfectly avoidable controversy," said Dr Avisha Kulkarni, a music scholar.

In his response, N Murali, president of the Academy, said he was shocked by the "vituperative'' content of the sisters' missive. He defended the Academy's decision to give the award on Krishna saying that the prestigious honour is conferred after considerable deliberations and is based on an evaluation of the musical excellence of the awardee over a sustained period. He said no extraneous factors influence the Academy's decision in this regard.

Ravi Kiran, noted exponent of the Chitraveena, said he was returning the Sangeetha Kalanidhi award given to him by the Academy seven years ago. In a letter to Murali, Ravi Kiran said he was unable to relate to the kind of values that the Academy was promoting these days. He accused Krishna of stridently polarising  and destabilising Indian classical music on the lines of caste and communal lines. He has also painted some of the icons of music in black.

Dushyanth Sridhar, a noted exponent of the Vedas, said Krishna had in the past ridiculed Lord Rama, the temple at Ayodhya. MC Vaijayanti, noted journalist, said at a function at the Veer Savarkar hall in Mumbai a few years ago, Krishna had refused to stand in attention for the national anthem. Vishaka Hari, renowned exponent of the Harikatha, too slammed the Academy for its decision.

TR Rajamani, son of the legendary mridangist, the late Palghat Mani Iyer, said his family was returning the Sangeetha Kalanidhi Award conferred on his father by the Academy. He explained that his family would not like the same award to be given to an artiste who had brazenly maligned other artistes of repute.

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