Karunanidhi kin inflict skills on meet - G.C. SHEKHAR
Coimbatore, June 25: Tamil, the great classical language, is literally chanting “Karuna, Karuna, Karuna…”.
Not wholly in praise of the political patriarch but for mercy from his culture clan that has unleashed its combined creative muscle on a conference to celebrate the language.
Two granddaughters of M. Karunanidhi, the self-appointed guardian of all matters Dravidian who also happens to be the Tamil Nadu chief minister, have already treated the World Classical Tamil Conference to their “talents”.
One tried her hand at the veena, the elegant musical instrument, while the other bestowed her attention on poetry, that hapless victim of grandiose illusions from time immemorial.
With the two “exponents” blessed by a whole assortment of filial permutations and combinations in power — granddad as chief minister, uncle as deputy chief minister, father of one a Union minister, aunt a member of Parliament — the audience and an array of DMK ministers had little option but to grin and bear it.
As the sitting-duck audience suffered in silence, Ezhilarasi Jothimani, daughter of Karunanidhi’s daughter Selvi, played the veena for nearly two hours on Thursday at the conference venue. Ezhilarasi translates into “beautiful queen” but she could not conquer the veena, the queen of Carnatic music.
Ezhilarasi’s lack of affinity to the instrument was quite plain, not surprising since she has apparently been practising for just over three months. “She would not be featured even in a school’s annual day programme,” quipped a veena teacher from Chennai who watched the show live on Kaliagnar TV (no prizes for guessing it is owned by the Karunanidhi family.)
If Thursday set the tone, Friday dawned the promise of a pounding by poetic prowess. This morning, Kayalvizhi Venkatesh, daughter of Karunanidhi’s son and Union Minister M.K. Alagiri, took part in a poetry event.
Originally titled “March on Tamils, lion-like”, it descended into a roar in praise of Karunanidhi. Kayalvizhi’s poem titled “Let equality win” was wholly unintelligible.
Other poets drew constant applause whenever they came up with a catchy phrase (of course in praise of Karunanidhi), but the “captured” audience sat through mute during Kayalvizhi’s recitation, unable to make head or tail out of her poem.
“Both in construction and content, her poem hardly made any sense. From the way she was reciting it from memory, it was obvious that even she did not understand what she was speaking,” said a Tamil lecturer.
A little poetic politics now: Kayalvizhi has been promoted recently by the Alagiri family as a rival to Karunanidhi’s poetess daughter Kanimozhi, who cut her poetry teeth in the 1990s.
Truth be told, Kayalvizhi did make considerable progress today compared with a recent literary catastrophe on stage.
A ghost-written speech she had delivered in Tamil recently had “STOP” written in English to mark the spots where she had to pause. While firing off the speech, Kayalvizhi also read out the “STOPS” which sent the audience into spasms.
Curtains did not fall on the creative comedy there. The speech was published verbatim — full with the STOP — in the DMK organ Murasoli the next day. The jury is still out whether an “enterprising” sub-editor let it pass deliberately or it was a genuine bloomer born out of unalloyed adulation.
Not that Kanimozhi had any reason to complain. While the two granddaughters had their public outing, Kanimozhi was being featured in a different manner at the academic sessions of the conference. At least three papers on Kanimozhi’s poetry were presented, unmindful of a little detail that her compendium of poems consists of three thin volumes.
Since the family circle is not complete without the fount, the academic sessions will also include 21 papers on various facets of Karunanidhi’s works, such as film scripts, letters to the cadres and plays.
“We expected the Tamil conference to be a party meet but now it has been downgraded to a family meet,” said Thuglak editor Cho Ramaswamy.
Karunanidhi had never hosted a “world Tamil conference” during his previous four tenures as chief minister whereas his rivals MGR and Jayalalithaa have. The current conference is also aimed at correcting this “anomaly”.