Upon observing people huddled in a bus stop on a rainy day near T Nagar, waiting to travel to a Carnatic music Sabha in Mylapore for a concert, the late Telugu actor Chittoor V Nagayya felt the need for a similar organisation in T Nagar. This gave birth to the Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha or Vani Mahal in 1944, so that people need not travel to far-off places to attend concerts.
Circa 2012, a similar endeavour is all set to benefit music aficionados in four localities of the city, ensuring that they need not travel afar for their favourite kutcheris. A five-day event, the Chennai Sangeeth Yatra, a joint initiative of two organisations — Vijay Shanti Builders and Eyeball Media — will see concerts being held in four localities — Ambattur, Valasaravakkam, Tambaram and Nanganallur. Thirteen noted artistes, including Kadri Gopalnath and Rajhesh Vaidya will perform in the events, which will be on till December 23. Business head of Eyeball Media Prashant Bashyam said that while most localities had their own amenities, they missed the flavour of the Margazhi music season, which only a few areas can boast of.
The organisation decided to hold concerts in these four localities following a dipstick survey conducted a few months ago. Also, the inputs of musical artistes, whom Bashyam said had a keen sense of where their audiences are, were solicited in this regard. “Our aim is to take the kutcheris to the suburbs, and our target includes Carnatic music aficionados and NRIs visiting Chennai during the Margazhi concert season.” Tickets for the concerts are available on all days.
Carnatic music sabhas are concentrated only in a few areas of the city. In fact, the need for such sabhas in areas along the city’s periphery did exist even almost a century ago.
Noted newspaper columnist, music historian and heritage conservationalist V Sriram noted in his writings how music listeners in Perambur, an industrial township in the 1930s, had to travel all the way to George Town, Triplicane or Mylapore – a considerable distance by all standards – to attend concerts. He also wrote that the Perambur Sangeetha Sabha, founded in 1933, “helped bring the arts closer home”.
Some sabhas sprung up to cater to the tastes of the residents of the area from where it functioned. The Mylai Sangeetha Sabha is a case in point. The sabha came up in 1919 in Luz where judges, lawyers and eminent personalities resided, he noted.