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The art of being a Chennaiite

Aug 24, 2006 08:15 AM IST India India

Chennai: It has been 367 years since Madras or Chennai, as it is now called was founded. Though Chennai has undergone many changes over the years some things about the city have remained the same like its love for the classical arts.

Every morning Chennai wakes up to a tune of its own like the rustle of Kancheepuram silk and its tradition of classical music and dance that has been passed on through generations.

And for some like Shashikiran, it runs in the family. For him the choice was simple following his childhood passion.

"There's a lot of competition here. 365 days there are concerts happening here. Me coming from a music family, I thought it was the best thing to do,” carnatic singer, K N Shashikiran said.

But it is not that easy for others, S Sowmya had to choose between two different passions. However, this gold medallist in Chemistry from IIT Madras ultimately managed to strike the right chord.

"Music is for arts' sake. It so happened that I started performing and Chemistry was my passion too. But I studied it for the sake of studying it, not to make a career out of it,” carnatic singer, S Sowmya said.

Soumya was not alone in her quest for the classical arts. An employee of a software company for three years, Srithika Kasthurirangan suddenly decided to log on to a different beat.

One fine day she decided to chuck it all to make her weekend Bharathanatyam teaching sessions a daily affair.

"Simply stating, there's a lot more of meaning I find in life doing this. Anybody else can do anything else, but this I've a feeling that this is my definite purpose of life,” Srithika said.

So what makes Chennai's youth stay in tune with the city's rich cultural heritage?

"Today these people are really educated, they have got a back-up qualification in place. So even if they fail, they can go back to their career,” music historian, V Sriram said.

"But what is very interesting is that they know fully well what are the risks involved in a career in classical arts. And still they stick to it. I think that speaks a lot about their passion,” Sriram added.

From the temples to the sabhas and now even to the cyberspace, the classical arts have evolved over the ages. But what remains unchanged with time is the passion that Chennai has for its classical arts. A passion that is not likely to die out anytime soon.