Accolades and Recognition, a Major Pull for NRI Performers in Chennai

The margazhi festival is reason the city’s NRIs make their annual trek back

Published: 07th January 2014 10:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2014 10:29 AM   |  A+A-


Home is where the heart is they say, but for many from the NRI community who fly back to the city during the Margazhi festival, home is also where fame and recognition is.

The annual trek of the NRIs home to Chennai does call for an occasion and what better occasion than the Margazhi Festival? But for them, the festival seems to be the reason. The fact that it is at home is merely a plus.

For many rasikas and performers who have settled in far flung corners of the world, the age-old sabhas are not just places where they can hobnob with the city’s carnatic-lovers but also an opportunity to bag name and fame to better facilitate cultural export, according to some from the community.

With several sabhas conducting exclusive festivals for the NRIs, they seem have generated a good reach, the NRI rasikas, if not among the general public.

While the trip to Chennai definitely serves as an opportunity to bond with home, many NRI performers say that they put in the effort to come here specifically for the Margazhi festival.

Pragati Guruprasad, a carnatic singer from California, who has been coming to Chennai for the past three years. She says, “The season is a golden opportunity for performers like us. One of the major pulls for carnatic music performers from the NRI community is that while there is a considerable following for these arts all around the world, out here it is a niche audience and after a while it becomes monotonous as you keep seeing the same faces every time. However, the major difference when we come to Chennai is that there is so much competition and it is an amazing opportunity to grow.”

Pragati, who was also the runner-up in the last edition of Airtel Super Singer, has performed over five concerts this season. She says, “It is definitely seen as a serious career even abroad. For performers it is a very serious business and nobody just comes to Chennai and incidentally plans to perform. We all have to plan at least a few months in advance and it is something to look forward to because the crowd and the recognition is unmatched anywhere else in the world.”

Pragati’s friend Devi Abirami adds, “The number of performers coming here during the season is huge and this time at the end of a popular NRI festival, almost an entire flight was filled with NRIs going back home. While many think they visit the festival as a sort of a holiday, it is definitely not one.”

While for some it is the crowd and the recognition, according to many, the titles and accolades too serve as a major factor.

An editor of a popular music magazine says, “Many performers settled abroad are engaged in teaching and instructing in fine arts. The recognition and the awards given here give them the necessary impetus. They are also a stamp of their prowess so that they can make progress in their careers as performers, teachers and instructors abroad.”

A professional dancer from the NRI community, Aparna Seetharaman, who has performed during this Margazhi festival says, “For me, it’s different – I was born and brought up in Chennai and was taught at Kalakshetra, so it is coming back home. However, from a career point of view, the main reason according to me, as to why performers come here during the season is because the rasikas and the critics are here. Here, every mama and maami is a sort of a connoisseur. In one way, it is the recognition and attestation which performers come here for”.


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