M.S. JEEVITHAVUM SANGEETHAVUM — by T.J.S. George: Translated by M.P. Sadasivan; DC Books, DC Kizhakemuri Edam, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 175.
WRITING the biography of M.S. Subbulakshmi was a task that the author had given up and it was by chance that he took it up again after toiling for 12 years. The book is dedicated to three women artistes, who fought for their dignity, identity and equality against societal exploitation, Veena Dhanam, vocalist Bangalore Nagaratnamma and dancer Kamala.
Madurai Shanmughavadivu Subbulaksmi was an icon with a unique idiom in the annals of Carnatic music and had won universal acclaim as a symbol of a simple, dignified, outstanding and graceful personality.
With his inimitable and engaging style the author has written a remarkable and gripping biography with many hitherto unknown facts about the couple. The earlier chapters bring out the evolution of music and Bharathanatyam in South India and these place the biography in perspective. M.S. was brought up under the strict control of her mother.
The second segment deals with her illustrious career in movies which ended with her acting in Meera, produced by Thyagarajan Sadasivam, her husband and mentor. He was the man who managed and ensured what M.S. was. He saw that M.S. was placed on the highest pedestal of classical music and was an epitome of grace.
Translating T.J.S. George is not an easy task and the translation is not as free flowing as the original. Lack of editing stands out in some sentences the same usage is repeated; may be the semantics of Malayalam have been a limiting factor.
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