Five to follow: the Margazhi edit

The vocal duo use Facebook Live to engage with their followers and fellow artistes. Photo: Special Arrangement

The vocal duo use Facebook Live to engage with their followers and fellow artistes. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Hemamalini S

With the Madras Music Season in full swing, follow these social media influencers and artistes for the backstage action

December in Chennai means the start of Margazhi season, with its kutcheris, Carnatic concerts and banana leaf meals. Facebook feeds are flooded with livestreams from every sabha hall, and Instagram is replete with carefully-designed concert schedules, story updates and live videos. And Twitter? Well, that is where musical requests are fielded, and feedback received.

For the uninitiated, the season — with over hundreds of artistes and at least 300 venues (including the unregistered ones) — can be overwhelming. Finding out where to go for the good acts (and the food) is not easy. But Margazhi has gone digital, and the social media stratosphere has become the playground for more than just the Sid Sriram-esque film-Carnatic crossover musician. Here are five artistes to keep track of for the season’s behind-the-scenes scoop, concert recommendations and sneak peaks.

Bringing the sabha to Facebook Live | Ranjani-Gayatri

Fans of this vocal sister duo (pictured above) number at over 1,00,000 on Facebook, perhaps a result of their six-year presence on the platform. Their viral practice videos have garnered over one million views each, and now they are using social media to break new ground in the conventional Carnatic circuit. Their most-recent innovation? Using Facebook Live to promote their recently-released Margazhi-centric digital album, Vaibhavam, inviting their co-artistes to join in, and connecting with fans in real-time. “It democratises the process and creates a closer dynamic with our audiences,” Gayatri explains. Yet, she is quick to clarify that social media offers just a slice of the duo’s hard-earned work. “If you’ve immersed yourself in the art form, [it] is simply a way to share our artistic experience with our audiences.” As their fan club follows them from sabha to sabha, you can expect reviews, selfies, and sometimes, even exclusive glimpses of what is to come.

On Instagram @ranjanigayatri

Fusion’s advocate | Sumesh Narayanan

Five to follow: the Margazhi edit

You have probably heard of him from IndoSoul, the fusion band, but this mridangist who has just made his acting debut in Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam is not shy about switching between genres. “There’s no such thing as a Carnatic persona — I’m just an inquisitive musician looking to tap into multiple facets of my art,” he says. Thanks to his multi-hyphenate musical career, he admits that he sees a healthy “cross-pollination listening culture,” with his IndoSoul fans flooding his Carnatic concerts, and vice versa (over 2,000 of them follow him on Instagram). But how does he make it look so simple (and serene) on his social media, especially as Margazhi sees him taking the stage two, or sometimes, three times a day for the next two months? “Instagram is my escape,” he says. “Each picture tells its own story.”

On Instagram @rudranym

Millennial-ready | Maalavika Sundar

Five to follow: the Margazhi edit

Hers is a household name thanks to a popular stint on Vijay TV’s Airtel Super Singer eight years ago. Now, with over 60,000 Instagram followers, her fans get to go (virtually) backstage at every gig, shoot, and live performance, even on the most exclusive of sets. But only some know about her Carnatic background, the one that got her to where she is today. “The richness of Carnatic music inspires me to package it in interesting ways for younger people, to show them its beauty,” she says. Amidst candid singing videos and throwback pictures, her Margazhi schedule has nine concerts in December alone, and she is inviting her fans to her favourite place: the sabha hall.

Follow on Instagram @sundarmaalavika

YouTube series | Jayanthi Kumaresh

Five to follow: the Margazhi edit

This vainika, with over 4,500 Instagram followers and a YouTube series called Cup O’ Carnatic, credits her impressive social media presence to her young eight-member team that works to share the best of her work, from ideation to execution of creative content. “After the first season of Cup O’Carnatic got over one million views three years ago, the team and I just couldn’t stop,” she shares. With requests for a third season, the show has sparked renewed interest in instrumental music worldwide, transforming her social media pages into crash courses for every avid rasika, student, and artiste entering the Margazhi frenzy. But she offers a caveat: “Don’t go overboard. It’s important to give your audience just a glimpse into the artistic treasure-house. That way, the magic of a live concert still stands.”

On Instagram @jayanthiveena

Five to follow: the Margazhi edit

Leading by example | Parshwanath Upadhye

Instagram is the platform where this dancer gives his classical dance a contemporary twist for his 11,000 followers. “Social media’s played a vital role in making my choreographic ventures reach a larger audience, but it’s just a platform for expression — for outreach,” he says. “An artiste can only have longevity when he or she is honest to the art form.” With a stunning repertoire of images, his followers include many Bharatanatyam students who follow his every move. This Margazhi, he is encouraging his fans to look past social media and prioritise performance through “sheer passion for your art, your craft”.

On Instagram @paarsh

Through her lens: Hemamalini S

You might not recognise this photographer’s face, probably because it is always hidden behind her signature Nikon DSLR. What fans do recognise are her crystal-clear, candid concert photographs, featuring a multitude of Carnatic musicians over the last four years. A full-time client engagement manager, she began by photographing Ranjani-Gayatri. Now, it is hard to name an artiste she has not clicked pictures of. I grab her for a quick minute between concerts, and she just has one thing to say. “When an artiste likes a picture and asks to share it on his or her page, it’s a wonderful feeling. After all, I’m just a rasika — photography is a way of expressing my love for the music in a single frame.” While she herself is not very active on social media, you can be sure to expect her photographs on artistes’ profiles.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:01:11 PM |

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