In his last days, Mahatma Gandhi called for MS Subbulakshmi, asking her to render a bhajan in her melodic voice. The artiste, a doyen of Indian classical music who could sing in nine languages, argued that she didn’t know Hindi.
But the Mahatma was insistent. He told her that she only needed to read out the words. Today, Hari Tumharo is one of her most famous bhajans. And it is with this song that the final day of the Carnatic music legend’s centennial celebrations began at the Shanamukhananda Hall on Thursday evening.
As the sun set outside, a near-packed hall waited in anticipation for the evening of celebration and music to commence. Several senior musicians and music connoisseurs were present at the event, organised by Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis attended as the chief guest. Labour and housing minister Prakash Mehta was present too.
During his keynote address, V Shankar, president of the sabha, spoke about the relationship the musician, fondly known as MS, had with Mumbai.
“The first song that she sang as a child on stage, goaded on by her mother at her concert in Madurai, was in Marathi,” he said.
The address was followed by the unveiling of the postal cover in honour of Bharat Ratna recipient Subbulakshmi and conferring of scholarships, Sri Shanmukhananda Bharat Ratna Dr MS Subbulakshmi Fellowship in Music, to 50 young and upcoming talents in Indian classical musicians.
Speaking on the occasion, Fadnavis said that Subbulakshmi didn’t just have a great voice,but sang from her soul. He added, “When this happens, it makes the artiste enlightened and eternal.”