Vocalists Ranjani-Gayatri respond to N Murali, call for inclusion in Music Academy

The joint statement issued by Carnatic vocalists Ranjani and Gayatri on March 25 called for more caste and religious inclusion in the top management of the Music Academy.
Carnatic vocalist duo Ranjani and Gayatri
Carnatic vocalist duo Ranjani and GayatriX
Written by:

Amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the felicitation of singer-activist TM Krishna by the Music Academy, Carnatic vocalist-duo Ranjani and Gayatri on Monday, March 25, responded to Academy president N Murali’s scathing criticism. In their joint statement, the duo claimed that they did not question the prerogative of the Academy to honour TM Krishna with the Sangita Kalanidhi for 2024. The singers said that instead they exercised their prerogative to withdraw. “Did we refuse to be implicit apologists for genocide mongers and filthy discourse? Yes,” the letter read. 

In view of Ranjani-Gayatri’s stance against TM Krishna being perceived as an endorsement of Brahmin orthodoxy, the singers surprisingly called for more caste and religious inclusion in the top management of the Music Academy. They said that they would wish to see a more diverse audience in the future for the performances hosted by them.

Recently, Ranjani and Gayatri triggered a row by publicly announcing their decision to withdraw from participating in the annual conference hosted by the Music Academy, citing the felicitation of TM Krishna. They accused Krishna, who has been actively speaking against caste, of causing “immense damage” to the Carnatic music world. The singer-duo attacked Krishna’s political views and slammed him for glorifying popular anti-caste leader Periyar, a revolutionary social thinker who led the Dravidian movement. According to the duo, Periyar had called for the “genocide” of Brahmins.

Responding to this, Ranjani-Gayatri said that they had posted their statement on social media only to inform their fans regarding their stance on TM Krishna. 

Stating that they did not question the Academy’s prerogative to award anyone, Ranjani’s and Gayatri’s joint statement read, “Did we question your prerogative to award anyone? No. Did we exercise our prerogative to withdraw? Yes. Did we refuse to be implicit apologists for genocide mongers and filthy discourse? Yes. With your verbose answer to questions we never raised, you are trying to build a convenient narrative and cast aspersions on us. Your statements to the press in this regard are immoral and dishonest.” 

Ranjani-Gayatri said that they would be the happiest when they witness performances from underprivileged communities. “We immensely respect this hallowed institution and it will be the happiest day for us and for millions of people to see star performers emerge from underprivileged communities and dominate this stage. We want to see the day when the TTK auditorium is filled up with a diverse inclusive crowd from all communities and religious minorities.” 

Read: TM Krishna’s Sangita Kalanidhi award row has become a battle of ideologies

Alleging that N Murali’s statement read like it was on behalf of the TM Krishna instead of the Academy, Ranjani and Gayatri said, “We were a bit surprised as to why your response reads like a release on behalf of the awardee, erasing the distinction between him and the Music Academy. But it became obvious when Mr N Ram [Director of The Hindu Publishing Group] , media hegemon, joined as an undeclared spokesperson, with his campaign branding us ‘bigoted, casteist coterie’.”

Pointing out how there is little diversity in the Academy they said that N Murali should lead by example so that people do not label him a “bigoted, casteist coterie.” The duo added, “This transformation [of inclusion] should begin at the top. Kindly start with the entrenched Executive Committee consisting of only Brahmins and royalty you have been heading for two decades. Unlike serious hardwork and the long journey it takes for artists to excel, this transformation is achievable instantly with a simple resolution and a bunch of resignations. Please consider leading by example, lest the world call it mere lip service and start branding you as a ‘bigoted, casteist coterie.”

TM Krishna has been critical of the Carnatic music industry’s casteism and classism, and has made attempts to democratise it. He was also one among the few in the industry to stand in support with survivors of sexual harassment who came out with allegations against prominent Carnatic musicians during the Me Too movement in 2018. 

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute