TM Krishna says MS Subbulakshmi 'Brahminised' herself for wider acceptance; faces backlash

FP Staff

Dec,02 2017 11:25:57 IST

Speaking about Carnatic music legend MS Subbulakshmi at an event on 24 November, singer TM Krishna said that she had "brahminised" and distanced herself from her family in order to gain more acceptance from the audience, reports Deccan Chronicle. Talking about her devadasi background, he said that the story of her personal life was tragic because she had to distance herself from her roots in order to turn herself into "the ideal Brahmin woman".

This was her way of trying to gain acceptance from society, and the change is evident from the songs she sang in the 60s, 70s and after, he opined. MS had run away from home and moved to Chennai to get a new start on life. He reportedly asked the audience if she would have attained the same kind of popularity if she were dark-skinned and dressed differently.

TM Krishna and MS Subbulakshmi. Images from Wikimedia Commons and Facebook/@mssubbulakshmi

TM Krishna and MS Subbulakshmi. Images from Wikimedia Commons and Facebook/@mssubbulakshmi

"One can hear M. S. Subbulakshmi’s old songs on Youtube. The music is free-spirited and electrifying and one feels like one is listening to a rock star. The music rendered by her after undergoing cultural and social transformation is equally fascinating to hear, but one notices the sorrow behind her voice," he said, as quoted by Deccan Chronicle.

He also spoke about how we should use art to "de-baggage" ourselves and create a more equal society, and that a "great" culture is one that does not differentiate between insiders and outsiders.

The comments TM Krishna made at this event, organised by Manthan and the Hyderabad Book Trust in Hyderabad, have earned him backlash from several quarters. He has been called publicity-hungry and a hypocrite, reports The News Minute, and many have compared him to Kamal Haasan, who was criticised for his views on Hindu extremism.

Chennai-based pianist Anil Sreenivasan said that there were more important issues to be discussed than casteism in classical music, such as manual scavenging, hunger and child abuse.

Sudha Raghunathan, a Carnatic vocalist, said that analysing MS Subbulakshmi's life choices was unjust, and that raising the point of upper class hegemony was overdone. She said that raking up man-made social distinctions is unnecessary.

Malavika Avinash, a spokesperson for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), asked if the music world needs to listen to "an intellectual like him"."... What is the Intellectual’s fixation about color? What skin type is he? Does he acknowledge that he is earned his status as a musician by virtue of his hard work? Or is it because he is Brahmin & Fair?" she asked.

Updated Date: Dec 02, 2017 11:28 AM