By Bala Shankar
The devastating floods in Chennai threw a spanner in the plans for the music season. The unfortunate events vividly captured on millions of cameras, were too sad a suffering to happen for people to think about music. The season was staring at a bleak prospect, perhaps even a full scale cancellation.
Fast forward 20 days, the story is different. It all began with some senior sabhas finally biting the bullet to call the season "open" as late as December 8th. The paraphernalia swung into action. Pandals, banners and neon lights appeared instantly. Canteen operators set up their tents and were ready to welcome patrons with bleaching powder odours mixed with masala dosa fragrance. Artistes shrugged off the calamity, including personal losses, to don colourful kurtas and sarees. The images of boat rescues were receding slowly but surely. The 'season' rose like a phoenix.
We have had a successful two weeks of concerts. Attendance has been good. The 'catchment' areas of Raga sudha Hall and Narada Gana sabha mini hall (Charsur) have seen overflowing crowds. Crowds at the Academy and NGS for the senior artistes have been healthy and a few were inundated with makeshift chairs on the walkways. The NRI folks didn't let the floods jeopardise their plans. Rescheduled and rerouted flights brought them here in the nick of time. Lec-dems were expected to be a casualty. That was belied in a few cases that I attended. The Kanjira demo at Parthasarathy Swami Sabha drew a large crowd, including a few foreigners. Sowmya's lec-dem on Tyagaraja-Dikshitar sampradaya comparison at Academy mini-hall was so packed that the main door was locked from inside (without letting the fire department know). Traffic snarls in TTK Road kept upt their December tryst. Autos and Olas were finishing off the year on a high. It's been a normal season, just 3 weeks after a deluge in the city.
Some senior artistes decided to stay away with good intentions. However, one is not sure if the season missed them or they missed the season. The verdict is clear - the 'season' is the winner. Along with it, Chennai too! When the dust settles, someone will hopefully remember the financial promises made by some artistes and organizations on diverting their earnings for rehabilitation.