“Therefore, this court feels that the petitioner made out prima facie case. The balance of convenience more rests on the petitioner. Unless an ad interim injunction is granted the petitioner would be put to irreparable loss and hardship.” This is an excerpt from the Chennai City Civil Court statement dated March 14,2019 which stayed the South Indian Cine,Television Dubbing Artists Union’s expulsion of Tamil playback singer Chinmayi Sripaada. It is a great victory and relief for the veteran singer in the music field as well as in the dubbing field as the elimination was about to demolish her job career forever. But does the court order make all congenial for her to resume her ever glowing career in a sudden morning? Is the court order pretty enough to erase all the gender barriers and discrimination she faced so far? Will it lead the accused artists in the petition to realize their faults and rethink upon it and will Chinmayi be able to regain her popularity in the stream?………. The singer’s own response unveils the amount of debarring and rejection she is facing and how her work offers got dried up after her divulging of a loathsome truth. How it happens and how could the advocates of the so called pure art behave like this when the court itself declares the balance of convenience more rest on her side? Yes, it brings out into the open that whatever adjectives you use to attribute the purity of art (innocence, kindness, love anything it can be..) ,the evil of gender discrimination is ample to make it impure.
All the issues got started in the period of the me too movement when the playback singer Chinmayi Sripada accused Tamil poet lyricist Vairamuthu of harassing her. She tweeted her #me too story after sharing stories of anonymous survivors for days.
Despite the applause and support Chinmayi gained through her disclosure (naming Vairamuthu as a sexual predator), the price she had to pay for #me too was heavy. She has been cast out of the dubbing union in Chennai. That means she can no longer give her spoken voice to women on the big screen. All her work offers in music got dried up. She continued to receive threat calls for weeks and months. Remember, all it was during the time when a film she dubbed and sang every song for is being celebrated through out the land.
But she didn’t remain silent. She continued posting lists of artists in the industry who got accused in the me too wave. In fact, the president of the dubbing union Rdha Ravi was one among them which made the union so thirsty for the end of Chinmayi’s cinema career. The singer fought against the union in the High Court also which gave her the result as the above mentioned order.
Still do you think Chinmayi could engage in the industry as the way how she was there before? If she could , will the industry allow her? It is an unvarnished truth that the relief is temporary and a long battle ahead .
Why people are still insisting on the notion of pure art… Not only one Chinmayi or any other singer,, the bigority and molestation being faced by female artists in the classical as well as in the cine field of music art is in such a high manner that it is being continued since decades… Yes,, Art is impure…
“Nee mattume..En nenjil nee irkkiraay…”(Just you..You are the only one in my heart…)…. Sea breeze blowed gently.. Sea waves danced in a rhythm.. Little moon flashed his most winning smile.. The whole nature was in utmost ecstacy and harmony because the ‘kadal makkal’s’ (children of sea) hearts were filled with full of felicity…The ever most rhapsody spread there while listening to TM Krishna’s above rendition in Kapi Ragam (Perumal Murugan’s poetry and K Arun Prakash’s tune) augments the dignity that gets flourished when an art becomes inclusive. Yes, the Urur Olcott Koppam Vizha which is now known as Chennai Kalai Thiru Vizha is the festival which promulgates proudly that “Ella kalaikalum samam,, Ella makkalum samam”(All arts are equal,All people are equal)!
The Urur Olcott Koppam Vizha initiated by Carnatic musician TM Krishna , environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman and team is an unusual art festival that explores spaces alien to the privileged, elitist, classical world: one that questions any notion of artistic superiority and respectfully celebrates the people and the art that inhabit these spaces. It creates a convergence where various art forms belonging to diverse cultural spheres and people of distinct identities come together to perceive and interpret each other through art.
“We say art is sharing. But the truth is all the arts are stuck in their little boxes. Art has to spread its wings. The duty of art is to bring the diverse people together. Art can be performed in a Kuppam, at the beach, a sabha, railway station or inside the bus. The moment we do that, art will be changing and society will be changing. ” -TM Krishna-
The festival got started in 2015 in a fisherman village called Urur Olcott Koppm where they created an alternate space for art to thrive, That is the journey of music from sabhas(concerts) to the land. Not only Carnatic music, here the festival presents Bharata natyam, classical instrumental performances(vayalin, flute, chitraveena, mridangam etc) and local art forms of the village like Kattaikooth, Parayaattam, Villuppaatt which are performed by various rural communities and the village people itself. In this 2019, the vizha’s title got changed as Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha and got extended the performing areas to Korukkupett, Basant nagar, Mylapore and Ennore. Somany carnatic musicians and play back singers are also coming forward in solidarity with the movement and started to perform for the festival which marks the wide acceptance of art for artsake concept rather than for any commercial purpose.
Today this festival has become a loud voice that questions the pre-structured idea that each art form operates within its own sphere and it should obey the rules of standardization. Across the city of Chennai, in schools and in public spaces such as buses and railway stations, the festival has brought art forms belonging to different social groups and made the arts capable of rising above man-made barriers and launching a requisite socio cultural conversation. Come,,,Let us celebrate the oneness!!!
“Music is said as the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go straight to the mind and heart of all people beyond language, age and color.” Ben Harper’s words are very much relatable in the context of a country like India, which has a diversified music culture and vast musical traditions. Only because of the undeniable power of music, the people from different regions are able to enjoy the very diverse pieces of music those emerge from each and every corners of the country. The range of musical phenomenon in India extends from simple melodies to one of the most well- developed “systems” of classical music in the world. It includes multiple varieties of classical music (Carnatic and Hindustani) , light music, folk music (Tamang Selo,Rabindra Sangeet, Bihu, Sufi, Dandiya, Lavani), filmy, Indian rock and Indian pop.
“There’s something in music which is obviously beyond language itself. It’s communication in its purest form ” – Matt Bellamy
The wide acceptance and popularity gained by Indian music all over the country made its way into worldwide credit and endorsement. Still can we assure that the multiplicity and unity in diversity of Indian listeners haven’t got violated in any way? Some of the recent intolerant actions of the Indian audience point out a big No to the question. On july 8, 2017 AR Rahman played a concert at Wembley in London titled “Netru, Indru, Naalai”. Despite the predominantly Hindi setlist from Dil Se to Jai Ho- several concertgoers complained about the Tamil numbers that were sung in the concert. What made the followers of such a great musician who said -“I want to go beyond the restrictions of language, religion and caste and music is the only thing that allows me to do that“- to leave their ever-desired concert in the midway..?
What led those diehard fans to insult their ever inspirational figure in front of the whole world? what did aggravate them to even ask for a refund? Well, the replies will be of legitimising their action by figuring out the offense and discredit they came to face there in the concert, then we must realise the fact that our proud, unique musical culture is on the way of plunging into deep trench which denotes the dangerous sign for the wide ruination of the legacy of pure art. Though we could expostulate that the shruti, raga, swara, laya, tala and all together forge a musical work, a musical culture gets formed and developed by the listeners. When listeners categorize themselves into different regional and language priorities and defame and discourage other musical styles and works , it will induce unforeseeable welt to the country’s incredible musical heritage. That is where we have to be heedful towards Robert G Ingersoll’s words that:”Music expresses feeling and thought, without language, it was below and before speech and it is above and beyond all words.”