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Carnatic musicians seek apology from actor Kamal Haasan for his ‘despicable’ remark on Saint Thyagaraja

Several Carnatic musicians are condemning actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s recent remarks on Saint Thyagaraja during his recent video interview with actor Vijay Sethupathi. 

Vocalist Palghat R Ramprasad has started an online petition on demanding apology from the actor for maligning the image of Thyagaraja.

During an Instagram live conversation on Sunday, actor Kamal Haasan said that Saint Thyagaraja was ‘begging in praise of Lord Rama’. This did not go well with carnatic musicians who revere the saint composer of Carnatic music. 

“Every Carnatic musician, regardless of how they exhibit their affiliation to the outside world, deep within themselves know that they owe every bit of their basic livelihood and professional success, to Sri Thyagaraja’s contribution to Carnatic music,” the petition said.

It also added that it is hard to find a parallel in any professional field as to how many thousands or millions of families’ incomes are generated owing to significant contributions of a single person (Thyagaraja) to the field.

In a scathing attack on the actor, Ramprasad, who is the grandson of Mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer and son of ace violinist TR Rajaram, in his petition added that no one can tarnish the image of a holy soul such as Thyagaraja, least of all by people who conveniently and selectively oppose certain faith-based ideologies. 

“The remark on him (Thyagaraja) is extremely hurtful to an entire section of the society, which perhaps, you may care least about,” Ramprasad wrote in reference to the actor. 

He also said that, “The specific reference to Thygarajar and Lord Rama, also suggests the negatively pointed target on a specific religion/caste, which is indeed an insult to the followers of this faith: because we all know that in the past and present, there have been several saints and scholars from various religions who have earned a livelihood – cannot stoop to lows of mentioning that as ‘begging’ – in praise of Gods of the religions they belong to.”

“Also, the Unchvrithi he did was owing to his Bhakthi, and not agendas outside of that,” the petition said.

Demanding an open apology from the actor, the petion concluded that, “we artists from the Carnatic music fraternity strongly object to the pointed reference of a holy saint whom we all revere, and demand an apology for your malignant and despicable remarks against him carried out intentionally or otherwise.”

Nearly 13,000 people have already signed the online petition.

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