Literally translates to “All those great men”, I think.
In my quest to learn pancharatna krithis back in December, I checked out several youtube recordings to find one that could potentially be within my reach. None of them was. But, I found some priceless recordings of the Thiruvaiyyaru Thyagaraja festivals from the 1980s. The perfectly snychronized delivery of such highly complicated compositions by hundreds of singers has never failed to amaze me. It was also awesome to see younger versions of some really famous musicians – Maharajapuram Santhanam, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, Balamuralikrishna, M.S. Subbalakshmi, D.K. Pattamal, and others.
What really struck me, though, was that while the men were sitting ramrod straight and belting out the song with supreme ease and confidence, with just the occasional glance at their (male) compatriots accompanied by satisfied shake of heads all around, the womens’ delivery style was noticeably different. A lot of them, including the Goddess of Carnatic Music, MSS, appeared to be frequently looking doubtfully in the direction of the men, especially when it was time to segue into a new section. Looking for affirmation that they were on the right track (at least that’s what it seemed to me). I am not making this up, go google it for yourself.
Why did the men get to lead? Why was MSS looking for affirmation? I mean, if I had half her talent, I would have been insufferable with my superior nose in the air attitude. The feminist in me was more than a little peeved at the (very) old boys network domination. I am now quite curious about the Thiruvaiyyaru scene these days.
Do Sudha Raghunathan, Nithyashree Mahadevan, and the likes follow or lead (or don’t care two hoots either way)? I wonder.