By S. Janaki
It's that time of the year – when the elite in the Music Academy put their heads together to select eminent artists for the coveted Sangita Kalanidhi, Natya Kala Acharya and other awards.
Several veteran musicians deserve to be decorated with the birudu of Sangita Kalanidhi, and one of them – probably an instrumentalist – will be lucky this time, as last year the title was bagged by a young vocalist. As there are so many veteran instrumentalists waiting in the wings, why not award the title to more than one musician every year – as we have been urging over the years? The Sangita Kalanidhi could be conferred simultaneously on five vidwans – vocalist, string instrumentalist, wind instrumentalist, pakkavadya and upa-pakkavadya artist. It would be a timely gesture as several deserving musicians are well past seventy and not in the best of health. This would not be the first time on the part of the Academy, as it honoured as many as 14 vidwans at a stroke in 1942 – all those who had presided over its conferences from 1929.
In 2013 the Academy decided to confer the Sangita Kalanidhi on a young musician every alternate year. It is commendable that brilliant musicians in their prime are gaining due recognition, but is it fair to place them on par with renowned veterans with a lifetime's experience? Why not follow the pattern adopted by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi which has instituted the Akademi Ratna or Fellow for veterans, and the Akademi Puraskar or SNA Award for artists in their prime? The Music Academy could well establish a prestigious new title like the Sangita Sarvabhouma for veterans. The new nomenclature (with suitable remuneration) will soon become popular.
I suggested the above points and one more at the AGM of the Music Academy last year. The Natya Kala Acharya award – as the title signifies – should be bestowed only on eminent dance gurus with an excellent track record. What's in a name? – was the response! Considering its stature, it is the duty of the Academy to be doubly careful. If the Academy chooses to honour a star performer for his or her excellence in the field of dance, it can as well coin a new title like Natya Kala Prapurna or some such. (It has lost its claim to the title of Natya Kalanidhi which is a title conferred by ABHAI). It should be child's play for the Sanskrit scholars and musicologists associated with the Music Academy to come up with appropriate titles. And surely there is no dearth of sponsors for the Academy to institute a few more prestigious awards!