Sometimes you feel that perhaps there's a grain of truth in all those things they
say about Western culture taking our youth away from their roots.
The hall was half empty - okay, half full, if you please, but there's nothing really to be optimistic about here. For, slated to perform inside was one of the most felicitated of all Indian singers.
The man himself was gracious, though - he acknowledged the presence of the audience present for being the interested ones. "I sing for the younger generation," he said. "Don't spoil your time by being glued to the box. We have a rich cultural heritage that the youth needs to be aware of."
K J Yesudas was giving a classical Carnatic concert in Hyderabad again, and, like it's so boringly normal, the audience was glued to the seats in the auditorium for nearly three hours as he sang continuously - except for a brief interruption by the organizers (Sabharwal Event Managers) to felicitate the artists.
Spontaneity (mano dharma) was the essence of the maestro's singing today. Rendered in his powerful yet melodious voice, every song touched every heart present. There were the favorites like Vatapi Ganapati, a hamsadhwani so innovatively structured, the Nagumomu Kanaleni with devotion flowing through every note, the Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Sankarabharanam (on request from the audience), brief but with every aspect of the classical nuances taken care of, and many short bhajans and his favorite Ayyappa stuti. He presented sixteen items in all, and with a fast tempo that held the audience in a near trance.
The Krishna statue given by the Sabharwals sat on the dais with him, and Yesudas sang in His praise with a devotion that only he is capable of. In the song Swami Geethale Padudunu, he compared himself with saints like Tumbura and Narada, and was at his best.
As we walked away, the loud speakers were playing one of his popular film songs, Kaa Karoon Sajni. That is one thing you have to compliment this man for - among several other things, of course - he's one of the few classical singers with many extremely popular film songs, and in many languages.
Yet, I am sure that if the youth of today are made to sit in front of the TV sets to watch a recorded program of Yesudas without being told that it is classical music, they will sit glued to their seats, or probably get up and sway to the sheer lilting melodies from the great voice. Traditional music has this universal appeal.