CHENNAI: The first week of Chennai’s usually vibrant Margazhi season has taken a big hit because of the monsoon flooding. With sabhas inundated in prime areas of the city like T Nagar, Mylapore and Alwarpet, several concerts have been cancelled. Organisers say that those that were held as per schedule saw sparse crowds, due to flooding and the general dismal mood that dampened the spirit of the much awaited December Music Festival.
Secretary of Kartik Fine Arts in Abhiramapuram says that one of the main reasons for this lack of cheer, is that artistes themselves feel it is insensitive to perform at this time, with the monsoons having wrecked much havoc on people’s lives.
Classical pianist Anil Srinivasan, whom we managed to catch at a relief camp on Sunday afternoon, said, “It would be such a waste of indulgence at this point for these concerts to happen.” After spending 48 hours at a stretch with victims of the flood who lost their valuables, or worse, their homes, he is in no mood to talk about music. “I think it would be a shame to continue with the Margazhi season as planned.”
Of course, this is easier said than done, given the huge amounts of money already spent on organising the festival which comprises over a 1,000 concerts in December. “We’ve already lost money on the dates when the concerts were cancelled,” an organiser requesting anonymity tells City Express. “The idea is to make up that loss in the days ahead. We hope the rains stop soon so we can get our shows back on track.”
This expense is apart from the large sums spent on cleaning the insides of the flooded auditoriums, as is the case with Sivagami Petachi Auditorium in Mylapore. And cleaning damp carpeting is the least of an organiser’s worries on a concert day.
“The need of the hour, if the hall has been flooded, is to find an electrician to check on lights and sound settings,” says S Ravichandran, secretary of Brahma Gana Sabha. “How many electricians can do their jobs if they are inundated themselves?”
Despite the massive efforts being taken to bring these shows to life, it looks like crowds will be at all-time low this year. Between water entering their homes, damaged vehicles and connectivity issues, the focus of most Chennaiites is finding their way back into some semblance of normalcy before heading out for a recreational event.
“I attend the concerts every year,” says Bhargavi Venkatesan. “But this week has been crazy. I am not even living in my own house! I can’t even think of attending a concert before December 15,” she says in a rush, clearly eager to get back to bigger issues than ragas.