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Picturing M.S.Subbulakshmi for kids
Picturing M.S.Subbulakshmi for kids
CHENNAI, June 20: She was the Nightingale of Carnatic music. M.S. Subbulakshmi formed the women Trinity along M.L. Vasanthakumari and D.K. Pattammal. Fondly called MS, Subbulakshmi won the hearts of millions of fans around the world with her golden voice. Singer Subbulakshmi also had a kind heart. She had donated over a million dollar to organizations that cared for social causes. ``MS’s saga of generosity is as inspiring as the saga of her musical journey,’’ writes Lakshmi Devnath in her preface to the book titled ``M.S.Subbulakshmi, The Queen of Song''. This is the first time that anybody has attempted to tell the story of MS in picture.

Lakshmi Devnath has done an immense service by conceptualizing this utility book, especially since it is styled on Amar Chitra Katha format. The pictorial presentation of the life and works of artiste of outstanding caliber such as MS is sure to capture the minds of kids and fire their imagination. Music transcends all barriers and reaches a wider audience. This pictorial book on MS, according to Lakshmi Devnath, is the first in the series of such books she is planning on yester-year Carnatic musicians of repute.

Traditional Carnatic music, it is often said, has only a niche audience. One needs to listen to this art form at least once to be able to appreciate it. MS, however, was different. Her music traveled across India through the film Meera, which was first made in Tamil and re-made thereafter in Hindi. ``I would rather hear Subbulakshmi speak the bhajans than anyone else singing it,’’ Mahatma Gandhi once said. Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had complimented MS on many an occasion. “Who am I, a mere Prime Minister before the Queen of Song?'' Nehru once said.

Lakshmi Devnath has done a wonderful job in encapsulating the entire life of MS – filled with trials, tribulations and glory – in just a couple of dozen pages. It gives the reader a complete story of a woman who dominated a space that was once considered the domain of men.  Lakshmi Devnath surely deserves a huge round of applause. Her work is akin to efforts made by many to make Ramayan and the like works inspirational sources for youngsters by presenting them in simple and easy-to-understand book formats with cartoons in the way Amar Chitra Kathas were produced.

Lakshmi Devnath has made it easy-to-assimilate for the children. The book goes down the memory lane to the temple city of Madurai, where MS spent her childhood days. MS, known as Kunja, was born in Madurai on September 16, 1916. Kunja’s mother Shanmukhavadivu was a Veena artiste. Kunja’s sister was Vadivambal and her brother Saktivel. Kunja practiced Sarali varisais as vowels in the early morning. Many great stalwarts such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Pandit Narayana Vyas and Musiri Subramania Iyer taught Kunja a few rare compositions. She got married to T.Sadasivam in the year 1940. Sadasivam was a freedom fighter and a writer. MS looked after the two daughters (Radha and Vijaya) of Sadasivam as her own and took them to concerts with her. Meanwhile, her husband Sadasivam and Krishnamurthy started a new magazine Kalki. MS acted in the film Savitri as Narada to raise funds for the new magazine Kalki. Sadasivam made MS act in the film Meera as she was devoted to God. True to his expectations, film Meera became a super hit and remade in Hindi. Sarojini Naidu expressed her desire to surrender the “Nightingale of India” title to MS. Rajaji strongly recommended Meera to be watched by everyone though he was not a film fan. After this, MS concentrated more on Carnatic music concerts. As her popularity increased day by day, she stopped doing films. All through their lives MS and Sadasivam willingly donated what they earned. Hindustani musician Siddheswari Devi taught MS Khayal and Thumri. Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai taught her tough pallavis. MS considered Semmangudi as her guru and even performed together. MS sang in all languages. On one occasion Pt.Bhimsen Joshi and Pt.Ravi Shankar were moved after listening to her music. She was offered many special sarees woven by a weaver Muthu Chettiar. One particular shade popularly came to be known as MS blue. In 1963 MS sang at Edinburg music festival. This was her first trip to a foreign land. In 1966 she was invited to sing at the United Nations Assembly Hall. MS and Radha sang an English hymn “May the Lord forgive our sins’’ in the U.N. concert.

In 1968 MS won the Sangitha Kalanidhi title from the Music Academy. She was the first lady to receive this honour. Bismillah Khan had high respects for MS. Helen Keller complimented MS during the Padma Bhushan award function. MS was honoured with “Ramon Magsaysay Award” in 1974. People donate a part of their earnings, But, according to Kanchi Paramacharya, MS and Sadasivam earned to donate. In 1998 MS was awarded the prestigious “Bharat Ratna”. She was the first musician to receive this highest civilian award. On December 11, 2004, MS breathed her last. She was cremated with state honours. MS has spread melody, harmony and generosity, writes Lakshmi Devnath. The book is elegantly presented with appropriate pictures, anecdotes and enormous information on the artiste.

A must buy book. Indeed, parents will be well advised to present this book to their kids.

Book Name: Picture of Melody
M.S. Subbulakshmi
The queen of song

Concept & text: Lakshmi Devnath
Price: Rs.125
Distributor: Swathi Soft Solutions, Alwarpet, Chennai-18, India,
Phone: 91-44-42316060.
Printer: Aparna Graphics Arts, Chennai
For more information visit: www.lakshmidevnath.com; www.kalakendra.com