Update at 5.50: After Delhi government intervened and said that it is working out on dates for the event, TM Krishna has said he has accepted their help in principle. He also said that he was approached by several volunteer groups to help him provide a venue for the event. Deputy chief minister and culture minister Manish Sisodia's office hasdcontacted the singer for hosting this concert.
He also said that it was sad that ugly trolling has affected not only him but the entire event.
TM Krishna is perhaps India’s most outspoken musician, working on a plethora of social causes and never shy of expressing his strong, spirited opinions. While this has earned him many accolades, including a Ramon Magsaysay Award, he has also become a favorite punching bag for the right-wing trolls.
His concert in New Delhi, part of a program titled 'Dance and Music in the Park', being organized by AAI and SPICMACAY, on 17th and 18th of this month has been postponed indefinitely, reportedly after trolls called Krishna ‘anti-India’, among other things.
Krishna, who is no stranger to controversies over his ‘unconventional’ approach to Carnatic Music, refused to be overpowered. "Give me a stage anywhere in Delhi on November 17, I will come and sing. We just can’t let ourselves be cowed down by this kind of threats.” He is reported to have said.
In December last year, Krishna broke many boundaries when he sang in the Afghan Church in Colaba, Mumbai. His ‘Katcheri’ featured many snippets from other cultures, religions as he also dabbled in Sufi music and ended the concert with a tribute to ‘Allah’. Then, too, Krishna had been at the receiving end of a smear campaign by conservatives for ‘polluting and diluting a 600-year old art form’.
Consequentially, another concert of TM Krishna and other artists to be held in Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Maryland was called off after the event attracted uninvited attention and animadversion for featuring Krishna who had sung ‘Christian hymns’ in Carnatic style. Krishna had not just taken up the challenge but even raised it a notch higher, saying he will henceforth release one song every month on either Jesus Christ or Allah.
This has all been part of an outreach program that Krishna has embarked on, many years ago. He has spoken vociferously against the confinement of Carnatic music to a certain kind of a setting and a certain caste. Aiming to free the genre from the clutches of upper-caste, particularly Brahmins, Krishna has held concerts in many atypical arenas.
What Krishna began was perhaps the biggest Avant-Garde movement in the traditional Carnatic space. From collaborating with Transgender singers-Jogappas to singing on the beach of Chennai for the fisher-folk by organising the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha, he has constantly been pushing the envelope. To ensure that Carnatic concerts are not just bound to auditoriums and temples, Krishna even performed in a moving bus in Chennai.
His robust opinions are not just limited to Carnatic music. From advocating for LGBT rights to standing up against environmental destruction by multinational- corporates to even being a vociferous right-wing critic, Krishna has often taken on the Hindutva espousers.
And is the reason he has now faced stiff resistance, ahead of his concert in the capital. His free-spirited arguments are often called many things, and now has earned him the anti-India tag by a section of trolls on social media. But going by Krishna’s track record, he will find a way, even in Delhi, to make his voice and music heard.
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