CHENNAI: He’s synonymous with the ‘Jus Drums’ school for percussion he started in the city. So much that his name, Murali Krishnan, is prefiexed with ‘Drums’. Growing up in a conservative Tambrahm family in Chennai, he shares his thoughts on the city.
Where would you first take someone who comes to the city?
I would take them for a drive down the Beach Road that leads to North Madras. The harbour, the congested area — you need skill to drive through it. The water is so close to the road and it’s beautiful. Of course, things have changed a bit now. The other places I would ask them to visit are of course, the beach and the museum. And if they have some time, I ask them to visit Mahabalipuram.
What has been your dream venue to play the drums?
I have played at so many places in the city! Recently added to the list of places to remember is the Lighthouse MRTS station, where I played for the Chennai Biennale. As part of the Biennale, I also played at Nageswara Rao Park. And playing with Shivamani at Chepauk stadium during the IPL was quite an experience — the atmosphere was great. I have drummed at the airport too, to welcome A R Rahman after he won the Oscar in 2009. But if there is one venue that’s close to my heart, I would say The Music Academy.
Your favourite place in the city?
The four Mada streets in Mylapore. They are vibrant, always buzzing with activity and so full of colour. The way they market their goods is nothing short of amazing. The way the flower sellers or the vegetable vendors display their wares — you will end up buying something even if you don’t need it! Just one piece of advice though — don’t take a big car. I drive an SUV and there’s no place for that kind of a vehicle on those roads.
Something special about the people here?
If you ask them, some of them make it a point to help you. For example, if you ask for directions, they will may give you clear and precise directions and repeat it till they’re sure that you’ve got it! Try the same thing in another city and they may confidently give you wrong directions (laughs)
Your second home?
Our native place is Palakkad, where we used to go for summer vacations. We used to witness the car festival there. One of my earliest brushes with percussion was the chanda, a type of drum that signalled the arrival of elephants, the car and celebration in general.
One thing you think could have been better in the city?
I have a connect with water bodies, and unfortunately there aren’t too many in the city. I travel a lot by road and make it a point to stop at water bodies and take a dip, or at least soak my feet. Places like Kumbakonam have so many ponds!