Kalakshetra Foundation cancels TM Krishna’s book release event

Kalakshetra Foundation director says the event may instigate political, cultural and social disharmony

Latest book by TM Krishna talks about the unsung heroes who have, for generations, handcrafted percussion instrument called the mrdangam. Photo: Twitter

Chennai’s iconic Kalakshetra Foundation cancelled the book release function of singer T.M. Krishna on Thursday (January 30), claiming that the event “may instigate political, cultural and social disharmony.”

In a letter, Revathi Ramachandran, director, Kalakshetra Foundation said that the institution, an autonomous body under the ministry of culture can’t allow the program to take place in the premises. Referring to the review of ‘Sebastian & Sons: A brief history of mrdangam makers’, which appeared in a national daily, Ramachandran said, the Foundation was unaware of the alleged controversies surrounding the book, when the premises was booked for the event.

The latest book by TM Krishna, musician, writer, speaker and Magsaysay awardee, is about the much-neglected intersection of caste and art revolving around the profiles the unsung heroes who have, for generations, handcrafted percussion instrument called the mrdangam.

However, in an oversight, the letter sent by Revathi Ramachandran to Divya Shah of Westland Publishers has named N. Gopalaswami as Chairman of Kalakshetra Foundation. When contacted by The Federal, the former Chief Election Commissioner said, “My term as chairman of the board got over on October 31, 2019. Whosoever has sent the letter lacks proper understanding. Ms Ramachandran has given wrong information in the letter, it’s totally wrong.”

Also watch: Exclusive: TM Krishna on caste, communalism, art and free speech

Reacting to the development Krishna tweeted, “Venue for the launch of Sebastian & Sons has been shifted to ACJ Hall, Asian College of Journalism on the same date and time. 2nd February, 6 45 pm. Everyone is welcome.”

Commenting on the development, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) general secretary Ravikumar said, “It’s atrocious that Kalakshetra has done this. The foundation’s main job is to promote culture and art. The book is about mrdangam makers belonging to the Dalit community and their contribution to classical art. TM Krishna has only acknowledged their contribution. I fail to understand how a book like this will instigate political, cultural and social disharmony. By cancelling the event Kalakshetra has exposed itself and its communal colour.”

Incidentally, VCK chief Thirumavalavan was the chief guest for the book release function.