Who am I, a mere Prime Minister before a Queen, a Queen of Music ~ Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru
If you are an admirer of Hindustani Classical Music or Carnatic Music, chances are that you have been smitten by the musical brilliance of MS Subbulakshmi. Once famously referred to as the “queen of music” by none other than India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, MS (as she was lovingly called) was the first ever musical exponent to be awarded with the Bharat Ratna in 1988.
On the 101st birth anniversary of one of the greatest Indian musician ever, we put together these facts about MS that as an Indian ought to know.
1. Born on September 16, 1916, MS was lovingly called Kunjamma or Kunju by her parents and relatives.
Her full name was Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi.
2. Her mother belonged to the Devadasi community of South India, a community that was renown for their performance artistry.
Not only was her mother a great vocalist, her grandmother too was a noted violinist.
3. Breaking social taboos, she had men accompanying her on mridanga and violin during stage performances.
She was one of the first Indian women to break this taboo!
4.Subbulakshmi was the first Indian ever to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often regarded as Asia’s Nobel Prize.
5. MS started training for Carnatic music at a very young age under the tutelage of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.
Not just Carnatic Music, she received Hindustani Classical training, subsequently from the famous music exponent Pandit Narayanrao Vyas.
6. She was only a child of 11, when she gave her first stage performance.
The event was held in 1927 at the Rock Fort Temple in Tiruchirappalli.
7. MS Subbulakshmi also acted in a few noted films.
As a young lady, she made her debut with the film ‘Sevasadanam’ which was a critical and commercial success, where MS was paired opposite the famous actor F. G. Natesa Iyer.
8. Did you know MS played the male role of Narada in the film ‘Savitri’?
This was to raise money for the launch of ‘Kalki’, a Tamil weekly published by her husband Kalki Sadasivam, a noted Tamil novelist and freedom fighter.
9. With the death of husband Kalki Sadasivam in 1997, a bereaved MS stopped giving public performances.
10. Her powerful yet melodious voice had MS become the first Indian to perform at the UN Assembly Hall.
The United Nations also issued a stamp on her to commemorate her birth centenary.
11. Mostly seen wearing Kanchipuram sarees in a gorgeous but ‘different’ shade of blue, she had that particular shade named after her, later on.
The shade of blue is known as MS Blue!