14 May, 2021

For A Commune, Not A Circus

In a catharsis of sorts, Krishna uncovers the cruel exclusivity that infects classical arts, keeping out women, minorities and others down the caste hierarchy

Photograph by R.A. Chandroo
For A Commune, Not A Circus

In a searing indictment of the hierarchical intent behind cultural forms, Thodur Madabusi Krishna, the fiery Karnatik music exponent, delves into the heart of the matter. All art is caste-based, he points out, and its so-called purity and richness are like gilded cages. Thus, upper-caste art has an unstated axiom that it is enlightened and will create knowledge, and low-caste art, even if considerably significant, is fit only for labour. He states une­quivocally, “Caste thrives in me. My everyday actions reek of caste superiority and I hardly notice. I call myself liberal and denounce caste but...it is an active, silently lurking monster living permanently in my mind, waiting to pounce when I least expect it.”

By extension, says Krishna, minorities are marginalised and yet are expected to toe the line to the dominant story where any deviation is considered overstepping the line. In India, Muslims and Christians are considered minorities, where the iss­ues become more complex because of the osmotic, seamless interchange of culture and social practices...

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