There is a truly magnificent Malayalam novel titled “Ini Njaan Urangatte…” (Now, let me sleep!), P. K. Balakrishnan’s retrospective account of the Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective. The title is based on the last line of the novel, when at the end of the arduous battle of Kurukshetra, an exhausted and emotionally drained Draupadi falls into Yudhishtira’s arms, hoping for her first peaceful slumber in years. Such a slumber is what many of us at Carnatica yearn for right now, after the months of hard work that went into making Virtuoso Music Awards 2005 a success. Jaisree, our tireless programme co-ordinator is happy to be getting back home to her kids by 7 pm; Ashok, our cheerful man-for-all-seasons is glad to return to his normal routine after the endless bike rides of the past two months; Sowmya is back to tending her son, garden, books and music; And Shashikiran… well, he is back to his normal self, chattering endlessly on the mobile and thinking up Carnatica’s next activity, eliciting a collective groan from our office folks!Virtuoso 2005 was in many ways a path-breaking event. It was arguably the first-of-its-kind exclusive music awards show in India, where we are used to several award shows dedicated to the movie industry. “Teamwork”, that much-abused term from HR-speak was very much the reason behind us being able to pull off an event of this magnitude. It was the teamwork of several disparate entities – Ashtalakshmi Creators led by Jayashree, a bundle of perpetually nervous energy; the sixteen-strong army of girls from MOP Vaishnav College, Nungambakkam on whom Shashikiran had to shower a whole load of his co-ordination & management skills; and Maximum Media led by Subhasree & Manimaran, the people behind the December Season’s popular Margazhi Mahotsavam show.
The toughest part was getting the large number of celebrity guests and awardees under the same roof at the same time. You had to be careful about seating arrangements, the precise order in which the awards would be given and who would give away the award to whom, keeping in mind diverse factors such as seniority, popularity and the most amorphous them all – ego – that fuzzy, inexorable, easily ruffled entity around which humankind revolves! You had to worry about the little things that go wrong at the last minute – a percussion group’s elaborate sound check that delayed the start of the ceremony; a celebrity rejecting the snacks and soft drinks on offer and insisting on masala tea (thanks Ashok, for scrambling!); late arrival of the mineral water crates; the frayed temper of a ticket-wielding invitee who had the misfortune of being seated behind a mammoth TV camera; a business tycoon’s sidekick hankering after the free pizza coupon; press photographers jostling for vantage points…
But these minor irritants pale before the wholehearted support we received from some of the celebrity guests. The bigger the names, the more humble and accommodating they were! Grand doyenne Pattammal – she who has conquered the world with her divine music and garnered much greater awards in her lifetime – bowled us over with her cherubic smile, childlike innocence and motherly warmth. Superstar Hariharan obliged each and every small request we made of him and captivated the audience with his spontaneity, his little on-stage cameo culminating with a Ramnad Krishnanesque rendition of ‘Lavanya Rama…’ (Tyagaraja’s gem in Poornashadjam)! The legendary SPB was not only punctual but also spent considerable time at the venue, even asking us at one point to forget that he was there and carry on with our duties. Chitra, South Indian filmdom’s busiest nightingale sat through the entire three hour show, performed with panache at the fag end, gave away a few awards herself and made sure to interact with some of the starry-eyed youngsters. Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Vikku Vinayakaram, Director Vasanth… it’s a long list of truly remarkable individuals who set apart other engagements and gave us their valuable time and undivided support, attention and encouragement.
If everything went well and we’re smiling today despite the tiredness, it is because of that goodwill, the hard work of our team members and surely the grace of the Divine. At the end of the day we have received several bouquets of appreciation and of course a few brickbats, all of which we imbibe in good spirit, aiming for a much better show the next time around. Thanks for the support, folks!
— Ramanathan N. Iyer