Intv: MS Subbulakshmi’s great grandson on TM Krishna, Carnatic music and row over the award

Surya HK, the great grandson of renowned classical musician MS Subbulakshmi, says in an interview with TNM that it is unnecessary to drag the late veteran’s personal choices and legacy into every debate on Carnatic music.
Surya HK
Surya HK

Carnatic vocalist TM Krishna’s remarks on the “Brahminisation” of veteran musician MS Subbulakshmi is making headlines again, six years after he made the contentious speech at an event in Hyderabad. He had said in his 2017 speech that Subbulakshmi had to “distance herself” from her Devadasi lineage to embrace Brahmanism, and that this transformation was visible in her music too. TM Krishna, who has frequently called out the elitism and Brahminical hegemony at work in the industry, had faced unprecedented backlash for the speech at the time, with numerous people accusing him of ‘Brahmin bashing’.

The comments have now returned to limelight in the wake of a new controversy, after several Carnatic musicians withdrew from the Music Academy Conference in Chennai citing that TM Krishna would be presiding over the event. The musicians, starting from singer duo Ranjani and Gayatri, registered their ‘protest’ against Music Academy conferring the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi award to Krishna, and have since accused him of “insulting icons” such as Subbulakshmi and Tyagaraja and causing “immense damage to the Carnatic music world.”

TNM spoke to Subbulakshmi’s great-grandson Surya HK, who said the late musician is an “unparalleled star,” who was “way above the petty politics of awards and boycotts.” Surya, a writer and communications professional, also said it was unnecessary to drag Subbulakshmi’s personal choices and legacy into every debate on Carnatic music. 

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