Wednesday, 11 December 2013

T M Krishna winds up concert midway, rasikas have mixed feelings; One rasika shares the experience

Do artistes have a brand image to keep? If yes what happens when they either under perform or under deliver "the promise" they stand for?

This came to the fore stronger than ever during a recent concert by T M Krishna (TMK) at Vani Mahal on Tuesday.

TMK truncated his own three hour concert by half, pleading midway that he is "unable to continue". Much like cricket these days, while there could "no substitute" artists (players) once the concert (match) starts what bewildered the 700 plus rasikas who had packed the auditorium was TMKs expression of "unable to continue". Yes that is what TMK mentioned.

Unable to fulfill the promise of a full fledged concert that was originally "promised". In branding terms, TMK simply under delivered that day. And there ought to be a price paid for that. That is the law of nature.

And what happens when artistes under deliver? Like all good things in life which command "premium" when the going is good, the image then gets impacted. This is what happened to TMK that evening. If sympathy is what he aspired after he called off his concert midway, he got that in plenty. But every rasika that day knew at the back of his or her mind, that TMK could have handled it differently. His most ardent fans included.

As it is, his concerts these days are mired in some controversy or the other. To use another branding concept, TMK chooses to be "differentiated " as all brands aspire to be. No harm there. But artistes I guess are a bit different from products and services, although they have a lot of similarities too - positioning, pricing and packaging included.

Coming back to that day, TMK started the concert in his now familiar slow and often meandering style. He encouraged his accompanying artistes by saying " Vasi, Vasi" (an expression he uses to say "play"). He also confirmed from the organisers on the mike, the closing time of the concert and said something to the effect, "besh, besh" meaning it's fine.

So far so good.

After the first song which went for 50 minutes, he dropped a bomb…." This is not a kutchery. Please don't construe this as a kutchery" .

One does not know what he meant by that. 700 plus rasikas had gathered for his supposed " kutchery" by choice. Imagine Sachin Tendulkar saying to his fans during an official ODI match not to construe the match as an ODI! It cannot be gully cricket surely? All hell would have broken loose then.

If TMK’s plea was not to construe it as a kutchery, what else was going on that day? Some rehearsal or what? People had come for not just from all parts of Chennai, but from around India and the globe and "exercised their choice" to attend his kutchery which he chose to declare it as " not a kutchery". Sad.

TMK has a right to do what he wants. It's his concert. But when you are a " brand" created by rasikas, he owes a more serious explanation than merely saying "unable to continue" midway. He certainly should have shown more responsibility that day. He did apologise to the audience for his inability to continue, but he failed to apologise to his accompanying artists in public who he let down badly by his act.

They had come all prepared to show case their talent too. Some of them not as great brands as TMK. So there was a lot at stake for them. Like cricket, a kutchery is also a team game. One member cannot call off a match or a kutchery on his own midway.

The least he should have done is to have continued with the concert, singing less and less and allowing the violinist to play more and more. Somehow he should have finished the concert rather than abruptly calling it off half way.

Sure enough TMK knows ahead of anyone else, the damage he has done for his brand image. The free kutcheris he performs during December season is fully capitalised during the rest of the year with "premium pricing". Can he deny this?

As is with most strong brands TMK can surely resurrect and revitalise his brand value. Need to have no doubt there. But it's going to be a long haul from here on. No gimmicks. No tantrums. No unnecessary comments on the mike. Just a simple and superb fare that he can dish out so capably.

TMK is great talent. He is what he is because of " rasikas". No individual artiste is greater that divine music. He probably understands that ahead of everyone else. The fear is that, brand TMK should not get self - destroyed.

- By Srikumar.N


  1. Atrocious! He should be banned from the concert circuit, recordings & weddings, worldwide, for a year or two. Only then will he understand that art is above artistes.

  2. If he was unwell, he should have excused himself and asked the violinist to continue solo. She is also an accomplished artiste. Many people who has ordered their vehicles to pick them up at 9 PM or so, due to parking problem at the Sabha, were stranded at 8 PM outside Vani Mahal!

  3. ^ How are you going to ban him? Are you going to tie up his vocal cords with a lock and a chain? Or are you going to appoint a watchman to put him under house arrest? He can still give concerts through Skype in that case ... A distinct lack of brains shown by the prior commentor

  4. The author is behaving as if he wanted to buy a kg of potatoes and was given less than a kg. If a bowler bowls so well that he takes 20 wickets himself and a 5 day match is over within 2 or 3 days then is it the bowler's fault?

    Also true rasikas care about music not about vehicles and bans

    1. Not trying to be dismissive of Abishek's point of view.

      But say Abhishek were to host a series of TMK concerts attended only by 'true' rasikas like himself. Would he give TMK a standing ovation each time TMK walks out on all ?. Infact the shorter TMK's concert, would he encourage TMK to do a shorter one the next time around and also pay a premium for subsequent concerts ?

      Abhishek, I think you're missing the point in the author's article.

  5. TMK is well known for his brash and arrogant attitude. That's why I stopped attending his concerts, and stopped buying his CDs. Actually, as reprimanding him for his bad behavior, the rasiks should teach him a lesson by not attending his concerts. Also, the music academy should take into account the behavior of such arrogant artists, and should ban them for one year or 2 years.

    Ram S

  6. while i agree it is an unfortunate incident we must all try to understand an artist's mind and the creative process. artists are not robots that can be switched on and off. if he had just sat there and delivered a sub-par concert will that be ok? if this is representative of the general reaction -- where waiting for your car is the biggest inconvenience and a ban on the artist is the solution -- it is a sad commentary on the audience. we need to have some empathy, some sensitivity before stepping into a concert hall.

  7. A well written blog - I can definitely understand the disappointment of a shorter than expected concert. But knowing Krishna, I trust he had a very good reason for not being able to continue. Everyone has a bad day once in a while. I only object to one thing - if art is above all else - it applies to both musicians and rasikas. In Krishna's case, its been a while now since he has shown that his pursuit of his artistic values is what drives him - beyond what anyone may write or say about him. I don't think that it means he does not care or is disrespectful about the art form. Just because one cannot understand him, one need not dismiss him. I heard just 2 songs of his concert at MFA today and in that one hour, I got revalidation that Krishna's musical exploration is something that I will never cease to enjoy, admire or follow.

  8. I was in the third row from front. He was so moved during and after the third song Cheta Sri in Dwajavanthi and actually wiped his eyes. We were also moved. Still that was not an acceptable excuse for the abrupt end. I agree with Srikumar and Heyman.

  9. He was very moved during and after rendering the third song in Dwajavanthi. Listeners were also moved. Yet this is not an acceptable excuse after some commitment.

  10. Musical vidwat of TMK is well known and there is no second thought on that. At the same time it must also be accepted that he is not the only person or the first person in this planet to render soulful,pristine music. He was preceded by many dozens and this cannot be repudiated. I'm this context I want to reinforce the point voiced by others on that art is more important than the artist itself. IMO this is not reflected in TMK s thoughts or concerts in the recent days. When athis basic respect is not given to this art form or to the composers it's better to avoid the artist altogether as said by someone else, rather than harping amongst us. I got this lesson after attending one of his offseason concerts wherein he sang a dikshithar krithi sans talam. Is this what expected from a person who purports as a person who follows tradition? Though difficult to believe this really happened. That was the moment I decided not to attend his concerts which is being followed till date. Coming back to this incident, he might have some valuable reasons for interrupting the concert in the middle, but this is not the way. What I feel is this might be one of his so called innovations; framing his concert Duration vagariously, as in one another concert in this same season he asked for extra time and sang....

  11. Not trying to be dismissive of Abishek's point of view.

    But say Abhishek were to host a series of TMK concerts attended only by 'true' rasikas like himself.
    Would he give TMK a standing ovation each time TMK walks out on all ?.
    Infact the shorter TMK's concert, would he encourage TMK to do a shorter one the next time around and
    also pay a premium for subsequent concerts ?

    Abhishek, I think you're missing the point in the author's article.

  12. A performing artiste should be accOuntable and responsible.accountable because he is paid for the concert. As a practitioner of the finest
    art form he is responsible for maintaining highest standards and respect the sentiments of the audience. He should remember he is performing carnatic music and not tmkrisha music which he is free to patent and practice.

  13. There is no hard and fast rule that a singer should continue the concert for two and half hours or three hours. If an artist is unable to continue the concert he has all the freedom to stop it. Those who say that he should be banned etc. are living in the heaven of fools. The rasika is only expected to hear a concert when the artist renders that concert and his right ends in hearing the concert as performed by the artist.Nothing more, nothing less.

  14. He deserves sympathy and understanding..But the rasikas also need similar favour from the artist, who if he had taken a small break could have come back and completed the concert..And allowing a short thani while he recovered would have been a great way to overcome the emotions of both artist and the rasikas. May be next time, aye ?

  15. Consider the following two scenarios:

    a) The artist sings for four and half hours (from the usual three hours)
    b) The artist starts the cocert late say by 45 minutes

    How will the rasikas react to these situations? I am just curious

  16. I was at a his concert a few days before that one at Chettinad Vidyasram and he spoke about experimentation and much else. TMK is not just a musical genius but also an intellectual that is obviously troubled by ineffable emotions. I am amazed by how easily he sings at a trancendental level but equally can understand the outrage from people that do not like his flouting of convention. I am afraid he is going to lose ground if he does not take control of himself. That would be a real pity. He needs to accept that brilliance and creativity should be within a conventional framework that people understand. It would be better if he kept his experimentation as a separate venture like some other artists do. TMK, the system of music is much greater than you can ever be and I say that with huge admiration for your talent.

  17. L.Gopalan
    Any reason TMK expressed or sincere tasikas could find oiut. If reasons are genuine rasikas should show magnanimity and stop hiitting him hard-Tmk should also owe an explanation.and compensate if he also feels that he should not have gilted into the bargain

  18. Sir i m very thankful to you...this is really helfull for us thanx to your details and again thanx
    god bless you

    Time attendance system in Chennai

  19. What keeps annoying me about TMK is the trash he churns out week after week on "The Hindu". Looks like he's trying too hard to become a mile-stone, like Ariyakkudi did. He'd be better off if he spent the time to correct his pronunciation.

  20. Some comments here are so silly and baseless. Hey no rasika went to TMK's place when he is singing for himself. TMK was called and payed to give a concert. It is equally impolite behavior if rasikas starts to walk out simply in between the concert.TMK is proved himself as astunt man several times. Whatever is his musical abilities, there is a need to learn politeness from old age masters like GNB KVN...Vidya dadaati vinayam right? but is this the Vinayam he has? No matter his greatness in music.. he is poor in his attitude sorry to say that