At the outset let me clarify that this letter is not from a wizened newspaper scribe with pretentions of being a critic but from a genuine rasika to a much-admired musician, a singer who holds pride of place in the contemporary generation of singers in the highly competitive field of Carnatic (or Karnatik as you would like to term it) music. That I also happen to be a friend is an icing on the cake!
Objectively speaking, it is common knowledge that Krishna, the musician, has been riding a huge wave of popularity given his vibrant voice, committed style and a keen eye for aesthetics of presentation. Unfortunately, of late, some changes seem to have surfaced on the concert platform which do not seem to be in tune with the style that endeared him to his fans. This is the general run of opinion amongst many of the rasikas. Perhaps I am wrong but the whisperings of disgruntlement and longing for the original are not lost on the regular listener as he does some sabha-crawling during this Season.
Some of your recent public statements referring to possibly giving up concerts or that your fan following would soon fade out are rather disconcerting to the Krishna rasika. Moreover, at a recent concert, you chose to bring the curtains down rather abruptly. This raised several eye-brows, to say the least.
Genius has its own way of confronting change; perhaps you are at a unique stage of evolution which is not comprehensible to the hoi polloi to which I belong! History tells us how some great musicians such as Flute Mali conducted themselves but they continued to be loved and feted despite their idiosyncrasies. Bobby Fisher in the world of chess is a genius gone awry!
By all means, please continue with the pursuit of your passions but deign to take your following with you through the music that you have got them accustomed to. Who can ever forget your awe-inspiring rendition of ‘Upacharamu’ in Bhairavi at Tiruvaiyaru in the company of R.K.Sriram Kumar and Umayalpuram Sivaraman? Or the moving rendition elsewhere of ‘Gajavadana’ in Thodi a la Semmangudi?
That you are a larger-than-life musician is evident from your literary and writing skills; your book “A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story” was launched amidst much fanfare by no less a personality than Nobel laureate Amartya Sen! The DVD release with Bombay Jayashri earlier was a unique exercise. You dared to take Carnatic music across to Sri Lanka when things were not too comfortable with the neighbouring country. You made a unique move in offering concerts free when every human exercise revolves round a fee!
The Overture put through in this epistle is aimed at requesting you to return to the concert platform in the original Avatar without prejudice to your creative talents flowering out in other directions.
At the Book launch function you had stated that music was “the most precious thing in my life.” You need to continue to share that with your large fan following.