Enter Alap, about a year ago, and Chennai’s musical soul is getting salvation from another quarter. Run by journalist Akhila Krishnamurthy, the magazine, as she puts it, seeks to “allow people an entry point into the arts without being intimidated by its elitist nature”. The magazine has had editions dedicated to themes such as ‘Expression’, ‘Instruments’ and ‘Production’.
Chennai has had a dedicated cultural magazine in Sruti, run by the Sruti Foundation, since 1983. It wears that mantle of old veteran well, having steadfastly analysed recitals, styles and techniques, and documenting valuable research material in classical music and dance all these years.
Fresh beats have now galvanised that steady rhythm—coming from a spiffily named The ARTery, a culture journal launched a year and a half ago by art buff and amateur photographer Ramanathan Iyer; the Culturama, published by cross-culture destination services company Global Adjustments; and from Krishnamurthy’s Alap. Their surge owes to the renewed interest in the arts, especially among the young initiates. The Margazhi season too has kept pace. “There’s a lot of interest in the arts,” acknowledges Iyer, also the editor of The ARTery. “But we lack quality literature devoted to it. This vacuum needs to be filled.”
The magazine’s initial preoccupation with Carnatic music soon expanded to include other performing arts such as classical and even folk dance. The Culturama’s agenda is more niche: to promote a better understanding of Indian culture among the expatriate community.
Iyer’s ARTery facilitates another kind of flow. “Mainstream magazines tend to focus on personalities (of artistes) than performances,” he says. “Thus media-savvy artistes get more attention compared to others. Good performances are not reported enough.”
Iyer’s equally keen that liveliness flows seamless through his ARTery. There is a great emphasis on visual content here, setting itself up again in stark contrast to mainstream media coverage, “where the photos do not capture the essence of a performance”, as Iyer rues. Krishnamurthy is a fellow traveller in this quest. “We experiment with design and photographs to give the magazine a contemporary feel,” she says. And make it more accessible to the younger reader in the process.
V. Padmini, a member of the Krishna Gana Sabha, is one of them. She appreciates art but doesn’t know much about techniques. “These magazines help me understand the nuances of recitals. I’ve also come to know artistes and musicians better,” she says.
Like at Alap, the ad revenue from patrons is also the fuel that fires and keeps ARTery running. “Brands advertised in our magazine get the greatest visibility in these two months alone (December-January, the music season in Chennai),” says Iyer. Going digital, agree editors, certainly helps save on printing costs but the idea is still to catch on with target readers. It may be a viable model for the future, but for now, these magazines are trying to get a foothold in the market through print editions.
Upcoming artistes are poring over these journals too, availing the undivided attention that culture magazines pay to their chosen field. “As upcoming artistes, we need support from the media; specialised culture magazines expand that scope,” says Sathvikaa Shankar, a professional Bharatanatyam dancer. “It also introduces me to the work of new artistes, whose work I make it a point to review.”
“With the growth of social media, an artiste’s work gets talked about quite a bit. Specialised magazines, too, help create a wider audience network for us as a community, which helps us get more work,” believes Vishnupriya Ravi, an upcoming playback singer trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music. For the diligent editors of the new culture magazines, that should be music to the ears.
One thing totally missing on your pages is any meaningful coverage of arts and culture. Perhaps as a Delhi-centric magazine, politics is your sole preoccupation. Magazines like yours, ostensibly national, have a notional sense of culture and civilisation, which our arts and artists strive for and represent, against all odds. When so-called educated people like you put such little premium on arts and society, no wonder India looks so poor. Which is why I was happily shocked to see you devote two full pages to art mags in Chennai (Raag and Roll, Jan 27). While Chennai has many such ventures now, their mortality rate is very high. While on the subject, you could have taken note of other cities too: Artscape in Mumbai or Attendance in Bangalore/Delhi.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT