On November 17, when people gathered at the Garden of Five Senses in Saket, it was not just for their love of music, but also in solidarity with a particular kind of politics. The evening was special and the performance important because T M Krishna was performing in Delhi three days after the Airports Authority of India (AAI) “postponed” an event featuring the Karnatic singer, owing to a backlash from right-wing trolls who called Krishna an “anti-national” “Urban Naxal”.
The threats could not budge T M Krishna who made a public announcement asking for a stage, anywhere in Delhi on November 17, for him to come and sing. Responding to his appeal, Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, stepped in and invited Krishna to perform. “No artist should ever be denied an opportunity to perform. I have invited T M Krishna to perform on November 17 for the people of Delhi. It’s important to maintain the dignity of the art and artists”, Sisodia said.
Politics and art, thus shared the same stage at the Delhi government’s event, “Awam ki Awaz”. Krishna said before commencing his performance, “The spirit of the day has transformed over the few days and keeping with the spirit, I will try and see if we can see multiple voices, languages, traditions, religion in the concert. I will not speak much.” And while Krishna refused to talk about politics, his music spoke for him.
He struck a mesmerising chord against the on-going cultural barbarism that the country is subjected to. Starting with an all-denominational prayer that Mahatma Gandhi had instituted at the Sabarmati Ashram, Krishna’s performance included a Malayalam rendition in praise of Jesus Christ, an adaptation of Nagoor Hanifa’s Islamic Tamil song, Kabir, Tukaram, Basava, Perumal Murugan and much more.
Around the same time when AAI decided to postpone Krishna’s performance, the organisers of another event hosting T M Krishna also received threat calls. Krishna is scheduled to hold a concert and music workshop on “Rare Krithis of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar” on 22–23 November at Gana Bharathi in Mysuru’s Kuvempunagar area. The organisers, however, as per a report in ThePrint, are planning to go ahead with the event. “There is no need to bow down to the pressure by some random elements”, Himanshu C R, one of the organisers said.
In the times when expressing a dissenting opinion mean threats, vandalising venues and cancellation of events, Krishna’s performance was loud enough to reverberate a rhythm of resistance.