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Ganakaladhara Madurai Mani Iyer
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A Layman's response to the Master's Music

While we are discussing the period of festival concerts and the common man's
response to classical music, an anecdote narrated by a music critic from Tiruvananthapuram about his boyhood days is worth quoting here. In his village in the outskirts of Tiruvananthapuram there was a certain porter by name Peerukannu.26 A sort of loner by nature and quite well-built for his job, Karnataka music was for Peerukannu an all-consuming passion. He would sing the songs of K.B. Sundarammal in total self-abandon. He was so bereaved when he heard about the death of Madurai Mani Iyer that he could not eat for days together. Peerukannu may not be an exception. But there is no denying the fact that he liked Karnataka music and that he did so genuinely. What is to be noted is that he understood classical music without partaking of the ideological implications of classicism understood as a cultural absolute. Would Peerukannu have bothered to read a 'feature-writing' on a Mani Iyer concert he had himself heard the other day? He would not have cared less.

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