Kunjamma….Ode To A Nightingale – M.S. Subbulakshmi
In Kunjamma—Ode to a Nightingale, Lakshmi Vishwanathan explains why she believes knowing M.S. Subbulakshmi has been the greatest blessing of her life. The author, whom M.S. has referred to as a 'daughter', retraces the life of a legend—its divine and human angularities—with love, sympathy and insight. As a child, 'Kunjamma'—Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi—learnt to play the veena from her mother and sang in the temples of Madurai. This biography traces her journey from there to Madras, the cultural hub of South India, and the impregnable male bastion of classical music, where M.S., as she came to be popularly known, would reign as the Queen of Music for decades. Equally memorable is her foray into films. Cast as Meera, Krishna's self-willed mortal consort, M.S. became the incarnation of the people's vision of this saint-poet—an identity she would willingly embrace at the behest of her husband. Kunjamma—Ode to a Nightingale deals with every aspect of M.S.'s glorious career, be it her mastery of the classical tradition or her unforgettable screen performances. Most importantly, it speaks of her immortal bhajans, sung in virtually every Indian language with singular devotion. That is why M.S. has won a place for herself in the hearts of the people—the final destination that fate had ordained for her.