Song of Surrender

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

In the September Issue

Our attempts to include theatre as an integral part of Sruti have been understandably slow, as theatre enthusiasts are not necessarily part of our core readership. Our theatre coverage therefore does not always reach its target audience, and when it does, we find that those readers may not be too interested in music and dance. It has been quite a balancing act, especially as we often encounter criticism from music lovers who feel we are leaning too far towards dance and vice versa, Carnatic music rasikas accuse us of excessive interest in Hindustani music, so on and so forth. In this dilemma, we are not very different from Indian sports magazines, which some readers tend to dismiss as cricket magazines, while those cricket aficionados that read them may have little time for other sport.

This is our first full-fledged theatre issue. Though it is neither very comprehensive nor structured, it is an attempt to cover a few variations of the art divided by genre or time in history. Vamanan profiles S.G. Kittappa, music’s godsend to Tamil theatre at a time when the old-fashioned musical was the only kind of theatre to appeal to audiences of all ages. Romance and daring bordering on bravado marked the life of this singer-actor non pareil of the 20th century, while Devdas-esque tragedy led to his premature death. Vamanan waxes lyrical over this extraordinary vocalist’s charisma, range and power – surely Kittappa fans will not complain.

Ancient Sanskrit dramatists – starting in this issue with Bhasa – form the subject of a new series by Bharathi Ramasubban, a promising Carnatic vocalist, who also has a Masters degree in Biotechnological Law and Ethics. The essay gives sufficient proof, if proof is indeed needed, that ancient Indian theatre was an amalgam of music, dance and drama. In addition to Indira Parthasarathy’s appreciation of the greatness of Ilango Adigal’s magnum opus Silappadhikaram in his column, the issue also offers insights into street and folk theatre as well as contemporary drama in a traditional milieu. In Pages from the Past, we reproduce an earlier article on the Bhagavata Mela of Melattur. This is our way of not only stating the obvious – that Sruti is a magazine on all performing arts – but also reiterating the holistic nature of traditional Indian sangeeta.

The October issue of Sruti will be its 30th anniversary number. We invite critical comment from our readers for publication in the issue. Letters we receive before 15 September will find a place in the October issue if they meet our expectations of content and style. It goes without saying that both bouquets and brickbats are welcome, so long as they can be justified.

Finally, we have come to terms with our inability to hold the price line in the midst of rising costs of production and distribution. We therefore have no choice but to increase the price of Sruti. An individual copy will cost Rs. 55 and the annual subscription Rs. 660 with effect from October 2013. We hope to receive the continued support of our subscribers.

V Ramnarayan

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