No Art Belongs To One Space

“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.
source:chennai kalai theru vizha,the official fb page
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!!!

When Music Defines Your Language…

“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.”