Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXVI No. 16, December 1-15, 2016

Short N Snappy

After the BMK funeral

The Man from Madras Musings is saddened. Brilliant Musical King (BMK) passed away last week after a lifetime of glorious music. His was perhaps the best voice that South Indian classical music ever was blessed with. And, added to that, this man had loads of talent, did plenty of hard work and came up tops. He will be sorely missed.

There was a lot of sorrow expressed but what happened thereafter can best be described as bathos. A number of colleagues in the musical world decided that this was their moment in the sun and made the most of it. The way they transformed a moment of sadness into a celebration of themselves had MMM and several others reeling. And after a brief time in reeling they got onto rocking, with laughter.

Thus it was that an aged but persistent drummer said that BMK was great because he, BMK, recognised his, the drummer’s, greatness. A once-upon-a-time prodigy wrote fairly well on the greatness of BMK but spoilt it all by slipping in a couple of paragraphs about how he, BMK, praised the prodigy for being prodigious. The Numero Uno of the terpsichorean world declared that she was the only one who had ever danced to compositions of BMK, thereby hinting that others could not even attempt her feat. If these were the top-rankers, there were plenty of others down the ladder who paid tributes to themselves under the guise of condoling the death of the musician. One drummer, not the aged one referred to above, had it that the late lamented had once told him that he, the musician, considered himself to be privileged to have been accompanied by him, the drummer. This, in MMM’s view, speaks volumes about BMK’s humility and lack of side but as to what it says about young drummer, MMM leaves it to you, dear reader, to quote from Charlotte Bronte, to imagine.

If that was not enough, there were the others who claimed to be BMK’s disciples. Suddenly, just about anyone and everyone in the telephone directory appeared to have moved into one section under Yellow Pages – namely disciples of BMK. In MMM’s view this included a sizeable number that learnt his songs from his discs, cassettes and other recordings and so claimed discipleship. You also had a couple of VIPs from a not-unrelated field who suddenly declared that they had been students. One of these, better known to his huge fan following as World Hero, said that he was paying tribute along with his ‘fellow musicians’. As to when he joined that category MMM does not know. All MMM can say is that immediately after the maestro’s death there has been a marked increased in the number of disciples he ever had. MMM fully expects this number to increase as the December music season starts gathering steam.

Those on social media decided that this was when they could put up pictures of themselves with the maestro and thereby claim extreme closeness with him. MMM is not doubting the veracity of these images, but he does feel somewhere deep down that many of them smacked of rank opportunism – to get some cheap publicity on a dead man. It brought to mind, for no rhyme or reason the lines: Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. For that matter even those lines don’t have any rhyme or reason and so there.

It was perhaps to distinguish himself from many of these so-called claims to tutelage that one of the real disciples put up an obituary advertisement for the dear departed, with a line underneath claiming that he was a ‘disciple for the past thirty years’. That may be so, but it cannot be denied that none of these, real or otherwise, achieved even an iota of the fame or adulation that old BMK did.

Re. demonetisation

The Man from Madras Musings was in a wonderful concert by Supreme Singer (SS) when all of a sudden he found that the audience was no longer in the grip of what SS sang, sing he ever so wisely. Maama was looking at Maami with a wild surmise and young computer whizzes were gazing at phones in disbelief. Within minutes, there was a sharp increase in the volume and frequency of buzzes, rings, tinkles, etc – in short, all those noises from cell phones that indicate that a Carnatic audience is listening to a concert. It transpired that the Supreme One up North had struck just then, making a speech that loosely translated meant that whatever MMM had in his wallet was of no earthly purpose whatsoever, beyond blowing his nose. At the end of the concert the one question on a music-loving and victorious doctor’s mind was, had SS accepted his remuneration in multiples of Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 and, if so, ought he not be warned? All was well, for SS as it transpired later, had stipulated in advance that he would accept only cheques, as was his usual practice. Canny man, this SS.

Also canny man, the Chief. Now, Chief, the important question on every man (and woman’s) lips is, did you know in advance about this demone-tisation? It would appear so, for long after the humble Rs 100 ceased to have any significance, you stuck to it like glue, stipulating that this ought to be the subscription fee for Madras Musings. And despite the pleadings of many to change (sorry, that was a horrible pun) to higher rates, you did not pay heed, rather like the deaf adder that stoppeth its ear. The net consequence, Chief, is that you are sitting pretty, as is Madras Musings, while all others are scurrying hither and thither, looking for ways and means to get their higher denomination notes converted into those of lesser value.

But MMM believes in you, Chief and, absolves you of any advance knowledge of this demonetisation. For how else can MMM explain the fact that you priced the silver jubilee book at exactly Rs 500? Talking about the book Chief, you appear to have scattered sweetness and light by bringing it out. MMM hears nothing but praise for the publication from all quarters. Men and women, so MMM understands, have stayed away from work to pore over its pages. Those that are not standing in queues at ATMs that is. Actually, come to think of it, this may be the ideal book to carry along to help pass the time while standing in queues.

Returning to the subject of demonetisation, MMM wonders as to its impact on the December Music Season that is just around the corner. Now this is generally an event where the most common currency used is the Rs 500 note. Most sabha-s pay just around that much to the junior artistes and they will need to scurry around looking for notes of Rs 100 instead. That will have one benefit – the envelopes handed over to artistes will look that much fatter and impress the audience. Unlike the envelopes, MMM expects himself and other sabha regulars to emerge slimmer from the music season as was not so in earlier years. MMM expects this December to be different for he thinks that the sabha canteens will struggle to return balance change to patrons, thereby making the regulars stay away. The other option is to raise the price of all dishes to Rs 2000, which also will make people stay away. And, so, here is to a healthy December music season.

Tailpiece

Forget the demonetisation. Chennai is looking at a dewatered situation. The Man from Madras Musings confidently expects that bundles of scrapped notes will make their way for use as paper of another kind. After all, you cannot switch to plastic for everything.

– MMM

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