The city is warm, welcoming, culturally bubbling and energetic, says Ghatam Karthick.
The constant crowds, the autos, the noise, the congestion, even the sweat, are to me important aspects of this city. The wide variations in ambience, from one area to another, give Madras a unique rhythm.
I have lived in Triplicane, Mambalam, KK Nagar and Vadapalani. As a mere resident, I have been exposed to the raw beats of drums played in processions, the soulful rhythm of bhajans, pure classical taalam as well as vivid film music. This has helped tremendously in shaping me as an artist. It is because of this exposure that I am able to be an accompanist at a Navavarna Keertana concert in the morning and blend into the playback score of ‘Kalyanandhaan Kattikittu’ in the movie ‘Saami.’ This rhythm, this music, affects the people too and makes them a lively, interesting lot.
Madras’ recall value
Not long ago, I was in Muscat, accompanying ‘Veena’ Gayathri in a concert. At the venue, I casually mentioned that I was from Triplicane. Within minutes, I was swarmed by a little crowd, inquiring enthusiastically about Raghavedra Matham, Parthasarathy temple, even little shops and eateries that serve idlis and lodukkus. For a few minutes, I, an accompanist, was the star of the show. The flavour of Triplicane was all it took.
Despite all the change and the growth, the spirit of this city remains constant. There is this warmth here that seems to draw people from all over the country and abroad to visit, to work and to settle here. Perhaps it is a sense of ownership Chennai exercises. For instance, as far as residents are concerned, Dhoni is Chennai’s captain, who also happens to lead the Indian team! Since we’re talking cricket, the way that Chennai applauded a Pakistan victory is probably the most popular testimony to the city’s graciousness.
The quote Vandhaarai vazhavaikkum Thamizhagam (Tamil Nadu nurtures those who come to live here) can be used specifically for Chennai.
The tastes of our people are varied and welcoming. Fusion, pop, contemporary, M.S., Rahman…they’d probably listen to music even if I began composing. However, there’s a catch. Many Carnatic musicians from other States have told me proudly that they could call themselves artists only after they were accepted by Chennai audiences. Malladi Brothers, Kadri Gopalnath, Mandolin Shrinivas, Mysore Nagaraj-Manjunath, have all wanted to earn a name in this city.
This city’s appetite for music is matched only by its appetite for food! Oriental, continental, street food, Chettinad and what have you. Come to this city, you will never leave hungry. It’s a beautiful, culturally bubbling, energetic, Namma Chennai!
(As told to Anand Venkateswaran)