December 06, 2009

A chat with 'Ghatam' Karthick

Should the title have been Dr. S. Karthick? This Ghatam player would have preferred this, for he could only tell how hard earned his doctorate was!

It was during a chat session organised by Deccan Chronicle at the Rasam restaurant on Dec. 5, Karthick shared informal moments with his rasikas over a plate of snacks and a cup of coffee.

Blending humour with musical anecdotes, Karthick said in two lines how he rose to be 'Ghatam' Karthick from a mere optional sub-percussionist. And he owed it all to his late father, who did not have a background in music but encouraged his only child to take up this instrument full time.

Now that he travels abroad accompanying Carnatic musicians as well as the fusion artistes, what feedback he gets from the rasikas abroad? He says Hindustani is still better known there. "Perhaps, Carnatic music is badly marketed though it is a very beautiful thing. And of late the Carnatic artistes are getting better in dress sense and presentation, but it was not so a decade ago. This may also have been a reason."

Karthick also shared the lec-dem sessions he had done for the foreign students. "If one talks from the angle of traditional Indian percussion, it does not interest them. You need to make it simple for them to understand and relate to what they can connect with."

For a question on deciding a career in upa-pakkavadyam, Karthick said that it was a bold decision. "One of my father's friends asked me if my scores were very low in plus-two exams and was it the reason for me to choose ghatam. That really irritated me. But my father showed me the right direction to make a mark in what I chose."
And he said that the doctorate was also his father's wish.
"My thesis was on musical intruments in Sanskrit literature. It is kept as reference material im Madras University and a few other colleges. It got delayed by 7 years due to my busy schedule and various other unexpected reasons. Even one of the communications relating to my thesis was lodged in the dead letter office!"

And how is it like workingin films? Karthick recalls his playing before any track getting ready for the song 'Madrasai suthi pakka poren' in May Maadham and playing after everything was over for the song 'Margazhi thingal allava' in the film Sangamam - two contrast situations.

But should the Carnatic music stick to its tradition and be performed in its own format? No says Karthick. There should be scope for flexibility as in Cricket which is now also in T 20 format. "Arts also change with times and we should accept it."

That's how his 'HeArtbeat' ensemble was born and the next day another performance of this ensemble was scheduled with a new item included in it.

Deccan Chronicle already held two such sessions with singers O.S. Arun and Sikkil Gurucharan. It plans to hold more such informal chats with Carnatic artistes. Do watch the daily for announcements.

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