In Kunjamma - Ode to a Nightingale, Lakshmi Vishwanathan explains why she believes knowing M.S. Subbulakshmi has been the greatest blessing of her life. The author, whom M.S. has referred to as a 'daughter', retraces the life of a legend - its divine and human augularities - with love, sympathy and insight.
As a child, 'Kunjamma' - Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi - learnt to play the veena from her mother and sang in the temples of Madurai. This biography traces her journey from there to Madras, the cultural hub of South India, and the impregnable male bastion of classical music, where M.S., as she came to be popularly known, would reign as the Queen of Music for decades.
Equally memorable is her foray into films. Cast as Meera, Krishna's self-willed mortal consort. M.S. became the incarnation of the people's vision of this saint-poet - an identity she would willingly embrace at the behest of her husband.
Kunjamma - Ode to a Nightingale deals with every aspect of M.S.'s. glorious career - be it her mastery of the classical tradition or her unforgettable screen performances. Most importantly, it speaks of her immortal bhajans, sung in virtually every Indian languages with singular devotion. This is why M.S. has won a place for herself in the hearts of the people - the final destination that fate had ordained for her.
About the Author:
Lakshmi Vishwanathan is a renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer who has won critical acclaim in India and abroad. She has received many honours including the Tamil Nadu State Kalaimamani and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
Her most recent appearances at the Jacob's Pillow Festival and at a workshop in the Mark Morris Dance Center in the USA are part of Lakshmi's ongoing efforst to be India's cultural ambassador. A trained singer as well, Lakshmi's dance, particularly her abhinaya, has been described by pundits as visual music.
Lakshmi holds a gold medal in English Literature from Madras University. She writes extensively on Art and Culture for The Hindu. Besides having authored a book on dance, Bharatanatyam the Tamil Heritage. She has also directed Poetry of Dance, a documentary film commissioned by the Festival of India.
Lakshmi was born and brought up in Mylapore, the cultural hub of Madras, and has contributed in many ways to preserving and nurturing the classical culture of South India. She is currently the Vice President of the Prestigious Music Academy.
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