Carnatic music enters cinema hall

For five days from tomorrow, Sathyam will be Madrasana’s venue

“Why not a movie theatre for Carnatic concerts?” The question was posed by a friend of Madrasana’s co-founder Mahesh Venkateswaran and while the territory’s been revisited before in the form of films like T.M. Krishna’s ‘One’ and ‘Margazhi Ragam,’ Madrasana is using the platform to stage kutcheris for the first time.

“After our other ventures like the garden concert and unplugged video, we felt that the December Season would be the perfect time to innovate,” adds Mahesh. Partnering with Sathyam Cinemas, a favourite for its optimal viewing and listening experience, the Festival features five mornings of concerts, each preceded by a digital audio launch and screening of Madrasana’s Unplugged videos that, shot in 4K resolution, lend themselves to the big screen.

Theatre as venue

“Theatres have been used for concerts in other genres globally, so why not Carnatic? Especially in a city where films have such a large following, this is a wonderful way to bridge this perceived ‘niche’ art form with a mainstream venue and hopefully attract a larger, more diverse audience,” says vocalist Sandeep Narayan. Fresh off yet another Madrasana release, a single that celebrated the launch of a new series titled ‘Madrasana Specials,’ he says that it is all about the excitement of the unknown.

“It could be challenging, especially because the theatre resumes its normal shows after every concert. We won’t really know the challenges until the sound check,” says ghatam artist Chandrasekhara Sarma. Sandeep, Chandrasekhara and vocalist Bharat Sundar, all featured this Festival have absolute faith in Madrasana’s aesthetic sense.

Of course, special arrangements have been made. While the Unplugged videos will be screened using the Cinema’s inbuilt sound system, Madrasana has arranged for its own sound equipment and a lighted stage, built from scratch, to be assembled and dismantled for each live concert. The finale concert will be that of Ranjani-Gayatri on December 27. The sisters are looking forward to five days of a packed Cinema hall, with an audience eager to explore new soundscapes and experiences.

Amidst all this, Mahesh does not wish to compromise Madrasana’s trademark intimacy. Although entry is free of charge, audiences are asked to register for passes online with an advanced payment option. Also they may donate to one of three select charity organisations, after which they can receive free passes in return. Entry is free for students of music and senior citizens.

“My creativity is largely influenced by the ambience I perform in, so unconventional spaces bring their own thrill,” says violinist Rajeev Mukundan. He hopes that the initiative to bring Carnatic music to new spaces will catch up.

The Madrasana Festival takes place December 23-27, 8.30.-11.30 a.m. For more information, visit

Madrasana Specials

Launching a new video series, a presentation of the Tulsidas bhajan ‘Gopala Gokula’ by vocalist Sandeep Narayan, set to tune by maestro M. Balamuralikrishna.

Picturised in a fishing village off East Coast Road, the video is the first of what the organisation hopes to become a series. To watch, visit Madrasana’s YouTube channel.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:47:52 PM |

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