Classical music was brought into the limelight again last week when India’s sitar exponent Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away, drawing eulogies from artistes from all over the world. Now Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) too is set to draw focus to the genre when it launches a 30-page graphic novel on the
life of Carnatic vocalist and Bharat Ratna recipient MS Subbulakshmi. The legendary artiste was born in 1916 in Madurai and has often been described as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs from Karnataka.
For Balan Mani, Radhika and their children Ashwin and Aishwarya, even today, the day starts with ‘Suprabhatam’ rendition by MS Subbulakshmi. Their home has ample elements that showcase a strong link to the Tamilian background.
“This is our first title on a contemporary classical artiste. Our attempt is to make young people aware of the wonderful success stories in our country. Classical artistes are not unknown to our youth, but possibly the story behind the rise of the artiste is not known. We tell the story so that the next time they listen to a song, it will mean more,” says Reena Puri, editor, ACK.
Puri says Subbulakshmi was unanimously chosen to be featured first as she is one of the most inspirational singers of our time. The scriptwriter read her biography and other books about her, spoke to people who knew her closely and then put down a synopsis. “Our biographies are well-researched and as authentic as possible. We are writing for children so our aim is to tell a story in a way that will be interesting to them,” says Puri.
The storyline in this comic too emphasises on Subbulakshmi’s younger days and the kind of atmosphere she grew up in. “As a child, she was so steeped in music and keen on perfecting her art that she would learn, not only from her guru Srinivas Iyengar, but even from wandering street singers and musicians who came to her house,” says Puri.
ACK is launching the title at the Margazhi Festival in Chennai. This is a one month-long festival of music and dance when various sabhas hold concerts. That’s not all. ACK has another title scheduled for this month. Puri says, “We will be launching the story of the great mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, on his 125th birth anniversary on the December 22.”
Can readers expect one on Ravi Shankar soon? Puri says, “He is a towering figure in the world of music. It would be an honour to do a book on him.”