Friday, May 26, 2006

The Man, The Legend

Yesudoss, the singer is only well known to us. Most of us have grown up listening to him waking us up with 'Adithya hrudyam punyam' in the morning and going to sleep with his 'kaNNE kalaimAnE'. But at the concert in Coimbatore last week, he showed why he is much much greater than just a singer. Let me recall certain incidents.

We had a rather irritating compere at the concert - the modern RJ/VJ kinds who make more noise and attempts to hog more attention than the actual performer. (For heaven's sakes she actually hooted twice after Yesudoss finished a melody piece! Sigh!) And as is the norm today, she shouted and crooned for more applause every time someone came on stage/every time Yesudoss finished singing ('Come on Coimbatore, ivvaLO thAnA Coimbatore applause, etc.,). The second time she did that, Yesudoss with his dulcet voice said 'amma, athellAm appdi kEttu vAnggak kUdAthu ma. avangga mansAra ennai pArAttindu thAn irukkA. antha vibration illainAA ennAla paada mudiyAthu. athanAla appadi ellAm kettundu irukkAthE.' Brilliant! (Of course the compere hooted for this as well..)

Yesudoss at the start of the concert (which was being held for a noble cause) mentioned something about how there were no beds in the hospital in Cochin where he was born and how his mother suffered at birth. In the middle of the concert, the sponsors came with a cheque offering that it be used for getting 10 new beds at that hospital. Our man did not as much take the cheque in his hands and said that he will speak to the hospital officials and ask them to collect the cheque directly.

Then again, there was an anecdote about how he was almost offered the AsthAna gAyakan of Kerala state (Again, when the compere asked the meaning of AsthAnam, you should have been there to see how he explained it.). Following this, the organizers again offered him a gold chain and the title of konggu AsthAna something (don't remember). Yesudoss, did not as much put the gold chain on his neck before saying that the chain should be used for the cause for which he came and that he only intended to sing for this cause and would want nothing more.

The clincher however came later. Our beloved compere by now had lost all sense of shame and when Yesudoss finished one more beautiful song, she hooted at the top of the voice that ‘She loved and desired him’. Let us think of this. This man on stage is a 66 year old man who has led a career without a single mark or blemish. The way he treats music and life and his principles are very very noble. Wouldn't someone's tongue tremble before they make such audacious statements?

But our man gently replied saying that 'You are pretty courageous. I'm glad for you that my wife is not here.' Following this, the compere once again babbled some mindless stuff before saying, 'Ok, I'll go back stage now.' Our man simply said 'That would be the best thing to do.'

But it was not over yet. The following piece was a rendition of iLaya nilA pozigiRathu by a member of the orchestra. The guitar for this piece was played excellently by a girl of about 11-12 years. After she finished it, Yesudoss got the mike and, 'ungga ellArukkum oru periya artistai introduce panna poREn.' Gets the girl in forward. 'ivangga thAn intha pAttukku guita vAsichAngga. adakkamA kai kAl sEshtai illAma guitar mathiram vAsichAngga. guitar vAsikkarathai thavira vera ethellAmo panni attention create pannalai. ippadi thAn vAsikka veNdum.'

Of course the compere as usual hooted ignorant of what was happening.

Some other highlights

1. Yesudoss never allowed anybody (other than very very small kids) to fall at his feet on stage.

2. While the rather unnecessary felicitations where going on with the wives, sons, brothers, brother-in-laws and onnu vitta chiththappAs of various dignitaries, Yesudoss waited patiently backstage. He did not come forward and join the mutual flattery on stage.

3. When Yesudoss appreciated and gave compliments to the young child singers on stage, he did so in a manner that made the kid feel happy while at the same time making sure that it didn’t get into the head.

To summarize the whole thing, I've been to a few concerts, both light music and classical. I've listened to a few excellent pieces that mark as sheer genius in terms of creativity. But here's a man who shows us that it is not just music or not just art, but beyond that sincerity and being true to what one believes.

I bow to you sir! Hats off to Yesudoss!


Parvati said...

Very moving post. And what you say is so true - when greatness and talent in art is accompanied by such kindness, straightforward nobility, it is as they say in tamizh "Pon malar naatram udaithu".

msp said...

Woohoo ! What-a-post What-a-man

Gandaragolaka said...

Classical music in India is one of the most challenging professions because of the dirt involved.. personal egos, theatrics, hypocrisy etc...

Added to that, Carnatic music has the extra ingrdient of Brahministic tendencies... Hence, the Genius of Ilayaraja and the brilliance of Yesudoss have always received less attention in the core circles.

One of the options may be to make carnatic music more secular like Hindustani. Composing pieces with not just devotional themes but with others like romantic and patriotic ones may do the trick. Actually, Hindustani music has some of the pieces dedicated to Allah. And Hindu musicians have no problem in singing them.. conversely, muslims have no problem with singing abt Hindu gods.

I think there is some insecurity involved in welcoming non-Hindus (or even non-brahmins) into the carnatic elite, but I think Indian music has inherently some features that makes people understand the Indian religion better... dont we listen to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan (not the actor), and Bismillah Khan with the highest reverence? Is it not because they understand the Hindu religion better than many of us Hindus?

Phew! that was long.. but the topic demanded it!

Anupama Viswanathan said...

that's a very nice description of what happened..I was hooked up till I finished..:)

Sriram C S said...

@Parvati - Very nice quote! :-)
@MSP - Trible Woohoo, if you had been there! :-D
@G - What you say is very true. But again, when composing on romance and patriotism, we'll have to make sure the composition doesn't become insipid or bigotrous. With religion that risk is lower.
@Anu - :-) Thanks a lot! And yes, I forgot to say how Yesudoss corrected the compere when she said 'Thirupperunkadalil paLLi koNdAyO' instead of 'thiruppArkadalil...'. He said 'enakkum nieces ellAm irukkA. avALum thirupperungadal thiruuparkkadalnu solluvA. AnA athai thiruppArkkadalnnu sonnA innum nannA irukkum!' Super I say!

Ganesh said...

Sriram after long gap, visiting your blog, excellent post enjoyed it , Shri Yesudass is a class apart indeed.

Sriram C S said...

Ganesh anna, nice to have you here after a long time. Nicer to know that you enjoyed the post! :-)