Learning it and performing it takes hard work.
Even after years of that, not everyone turns out to have the same level of voice quality, talent and that special star quality that makes its own direct, authentic connect with listeners. Plenty of "Brahmin" wannabes fall by the wayside, by the way, but stay in the zone and make an informed audience.
If somebody's got a better song in today's world, why don't they sing it in another milieu? Why grudge Carnatic music its world?
Nobody took anything away from anybody by force, they learned the music the hard way through individual sadhana. Poor parents in that zone go without things to pay for their children's music lessons on top of school expenses. The music is learned through hours of sacrifice and effort.
Nor is it stuffy and hidebound. It was Muthuswami Dikshithar who incorporated "Hindustani" modes and experimented with the music of British bands. So many new instruments have come into the music - Western violin, mandolin, saxophone, piano, guitar. It is freely used so much in South Indian film music.
|It was Muthuswami Dikshithar who incorporated "Hindustani" modes and experimented with the music of British bands.|
It's accessible to anyone who sincerely makes the effort and has the talent. Yesudas did so well, learning from Chembai. Jon Higgins did so well. Sheikh Chinna Moula did so well. Women singers have done so well.
There's so much music in the world, something for everybody. Why grudge these guys the music they relate to? Because they have something they're good at, and have kept it going with individual and collective effort?
And why the devil should they not have the right to like bhakti bhav? It's a beautiful zone, too. There's a whole world of poetic intensity there, why ever not? It's okay for a qawwal to sing Sufi verse but not for a Carnatic musician to sing of bhakti? Yeh kya double standard hai?
TM Krishna is a wonderful singer with a voice I love. I will never miss a concert by him if I can help it. I think it's fine to experiment, let's see what comes of it, way too soon to tell. But the cliches being spouted in that context and taken up so readily by "English media" are pathetic.
Join the party instead. Enjoy the music. Why don't they? Too much work? Easier to sneer? What is this, "the music everybody loves to hate"? And now they're saying its followers are "BJP supporters"!
Hadd ho gayi, bhai!
(This piece first appeared on the author's Facebook page.)