“I actually want to thank Sonal Mansingh for writing that piece because the piece actually further solidifies our notions of why the concert was probably postponed. Because the whole piece is about my political positions. Her whole piece is about the fact that I have said things that are anti-Modi. So if anything, that is the closest to an acknowledgement that we can get. So I must thank Sonalji for writing that piece.” That was Carnatic vocalist T M Krishna responding to veteran dancer and Rajya Sabha member Sonal Mansingh’s article in The Indian Express on Friday on the controversy over his concert being ‘postponed’ by AAI. Krishna spoke to The Indian Express on the sidelines of the Tata Literature Live! Festival in Mumbai.
Krishna, who will be singing in the capital Saturday on the invitation of the Delhi government, said he was thankful to the government of Delhi for stepping in but that he would have been happy to accept the invitation of any government. “Let me be clear, if it had been the Aam Aadmi Party or any other political party which had invited me, to make the concert a party event, then I wouldn’t have agreed. This is an invitation from the Delhi government,” he said.
In her article, Mansingh, who was one of the four artists slated to perform at the SPIC-MACAY and AAI festival this weekend, had dismissed the argument that the event’s cancellation was an attack on freedom of expression, writing, “It is also high time that many people in our fraternity stop linking every problem in their life, starting from the cancellation of a concert to more, to Prime Minister Modi.”
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On whether her view points to a political divide in the world of art, Krishna said: “The world of artists in India — I’m saying this with trepidation — is largely a world of timidity. So we generally like to be pro-establishment. India is a feudal country, we always see art as being something that is supported by powers. The power could be the king, it could be zamindar. Today it is bureaucrat and government, and the corporate sponsor. So therefore we feel beholden to these people, which is understandable on some level.”
Two more events of Krishna, in Mysuru on November 22 and 23, came under attack but its organisers have confirmed they are going ahead with them. “The organisers of the Mysuru concert have stepped in and said they’re not going to budge and the concert’s happening, which is fabulous. I have no problems with people disagreeing with me, coming to the venue and standing out there, and shouting slogans. Please do it. That’s your democratic right. But I don’t think anyone has the right to shut something down. That’s ugly.”