Marghazi is an auspicious Tamil month that begins in December. The city of Chennai organises cultural festivals in several venues during this month, and enthusiasts from all over the country and belonging to all age groups gather to watch the performances of classical dancers, drama troupes and Carnatic musicians.
Along with music performances, visitors to the festivals can also taste several delicacies—including full-course South Indian meals.
Many of the musicians and music enthusiasts attending the festival rely upon the Reckoner for Chennai Music Season, a 280-page handbook which lists all the programmes scheduled during the Margazhi season, and arranges them according to dates. In the end, there is a separate section focusing on the schedules of famous artists.
All the information needed for the booklet is gathered and arranged by 68-year old S Kannan.
This year, Kannan will publish the 30th edition of the handbook.
Kannan is a retired employee of Bank of Baroda and lives in Mylapore. He does not belong to a family of singers and has also not received any formal training in music. However, he always had a passion for Carnatic music that only grew with time.
The original idea of the handbook was drafted by RT Chari, an industrialist whom Kannan regards as a mentor. They worked together for a few years till Chari backed out of the initiative in 1992.
Kannan continued working on the book even then. He was searching for funding of the book when Nalli Chetti, who owns the very popular Nalli Silks agreed to fund the printing cost. “After that, there was no looking back,” Kannan told Scroll.
Today, Kannan puts painstaking efforts in putting the handbook together.
He singlehandedly approaches the musicians and organisations who are scheduled to perform during the festival.
He attends sabhas, meets programme co-ordinators or contacts organisations to jot down their itineraries. He then organises all this data in a date-wise fashion for the book. Around 5,500 of these copies are distributed free of cost.
“Although I get a sense of satisfaction, I am also tired of asking people to solicit information,” Kannan told The Hindu.
He has also thought of giving up this work, several times. “I only wish people were more disciplined and organised. In the West, schedules of concerts are ready months in advance. Here, I am chasing sabhas to send the programme schedules,” Kannan told The Hindu.
However, the satisfaction that he gets when all his copies are distributed to eager enthusiasts conquers his angst. It gives him a feeling of having contributed to the auspicious music festival. “I feel happy that in some small way I helped the connoisseurs of music,” he told Scroll.