Saturday 8 December 2012

When Aa Naa Kru took on MS

Even decades after Independence, Bangalore had continued to be an alien for Kannadigas. It was only in the late 1950s and early 1960s that pro-Kannada organisations and Kannada activists came into being.
It was during this period that even writers joined the Kannada stir and among the first to do so was eminent Kannada writer Aa Naa Kru.
A N Krishna Rao, who is better known as Aa Naa Kru even took on the queen of Carnatic music, M.S. Subbulakshmi, during one of his pro-Kannada Kannada  protest.
An unfailing soldier of the Kannada movement, he demanded that Kannada be given its due in Bangalore. It was 1962 and MS (as was the name of MS Subbulakshmi) was in Bangalore to sing for the Ramotsava celebrations.
The Ramotsava celebrations have been an yearly feature in Bangalore held during the Ramanavani and they attract artistes from all over India.
The Ramanavami concerts are a big hit in Bangalore and they are held in many localities. The concerts at Fort High School, Seshadripuram, Shankarapuram and NR Colony are worth a mention,
The concerts, which are generally held in the evenings, are a big draw. Some of the best of the musicians, be it MS or MLV (ML Vasantha Kumari), Balamurali Krishna, Bheemsen Joshi, Yesudas among others have participated in these events.
During 1962, MS was slated to perform in Bangalore during the Rama Navami concerts. Aa Naa Kru launched a virulent protest against  the concert.
He made it clear that personally he had nothing against MS. He said he was against the importance given to artistes from others States.
MS belonged to Tamil Nadu and she had been given a prime slot, So were other artistes from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and even Kerala. Where are the slots for local artistes, he asked the organisers.
He said local artistes, particularly those from Karnataka, should also be given a platform to function. MS is from Tamil Nadu and this time around almost all the artistes are from that State. This is Tamilotsava and not Ramotsava, he thundered.
Aa Naa Kru’s attack had the desired effect. When he said “Iddu Ramotsavana Alla, Iddu Tamilotsava” almost all people of Bangalore seemed to agree with him. He received vociferous support from all Kannada speaking people.
He personally led a procession through the main streets of Bangalore against the Rama Navami concert featuring MS and other Tamil artistes.
Unfortunately, some of the protestors tried to set fire to the pandal where MS was to sing. The police lathicharge the crowd and arrested some of the demonstrators.
Aa Naa Kru was supported by more than fifty Kannada associations of Bangalore which had joined him in the protest against the Ramaseva Mandali, which organised the Ramotsava festival.
He later joined hands with other like minded Kannada activists and started the Karnataka Samyuktha Ranga. The aim-to ensure Kannada was given primacy and that the local language, people and artistes were encouraged.
Once Aa Naa Kru took a pro-Kannada stand, almost all organisers of the Rama Navami concerts began allotting time and space for local artistes. This trend continues even today and one should thank Aa Naa Kru for this.
Born in Kolar on May 9, 1908, he started out as an Editor of magazines in Kannada like Vishva Vani and Katha Manjari.
He also edited Kannada Nudi, which was published by the Kannada Sahitya Parishath. He was a novelist, play writer, critic,  thinker, connoisseur, journalist and a devoted Kannada activist.
Aa Naa Kru was  the President of the 43rd Kannada Sahitya Sammelan. He was so popular that Maasti Venkatesh Iyengar once introduced him saying “I am a Tamil Kannadiga, Mirza Ismail (the then Diwan of Mysore), a Muslim Kannadiga and Aa Naa Kru is a pure Kannadiga’’. He died in Bangalore in 1971.
By the way, MS performed at the Rama Navami concerts in Fort High School grounds on 31 occasions between 1952 and 1992.

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