Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Voice by Suresh Menon: Paragraph Questions

Kannur University

Common Course
Readings on Kerala (1A02ENG)

1. Explain how Malayalis make Yesudas a part and parcel of their life.

Yesudas is the common currency wherever Malayalis live. Malayali Samajams around the world measures their effectiveness by the number of times they can organize a Yesudas concert. Sometimes, there are two or three in the same city. He is part of the consciousness of a people. Yesudas songs are also part of the stories related to every relationship in the Malayali mind. Malayalis wooed their wives and girlfriends with his songs. There is a song for every occasion. Yesudas is the 'state treasure' in Kerala. Most Malayalis feel at home wherever they are in the world the moment a Yesudas song wafts through the music system.

2. According to the author, what are Yesudas' contributions towards building a secular atmosphere in Kerala?

According to Suresh Menon Yesudas's attempts at breaking religious barriers have made it possible for Kerala to move towards true secularism. He is strongly identified with Sabarimala and Lord Ayyappa. In mid-2001, when he gave his first concert at London's Royal Albert Hall, there was a request for a song: 'Guruvayoor ambalanadayil oru divasam njan pokum...'. (I will pray at Guruvayur someday). Born a Christian he is denied entry to the holiest Krishna temple in Kerala. Yesudas accepts the situation with humour and humility.

3. Present two instances from the excerpt that highlight Yesudas' humility. 

Humility is one of the hallmarks of Yesudas. When asked about being a 'state treasure', Yesudas responds that music brings people together. If his music influences people, it is the impact of music. According to Yesudas, he is merely an instrument of a higher power. Yesudas is aware of his power, of what it means to be the best-known Malayali from a region in the country that has produced scientists, writers, sportsmen, and artists of international stature and even a Head of State, K R Narayanan. Another instance of his humility is seen when asked about being denied the entry into Guruvayur temple. He responds that God chose him and he is grateful for that. The humility springs from a deep sense of understanding that he is not just the gifted one but the chosen one.

4. What helped Yesudas breathe life into philosophical songs such as those penned down by Vayalar?

The life of Yesudas is a life lived hard. If method acting is an accepted technique in the actor's repertoire, Yesudas' 'method singing' bringing to the surface emotions from experiences few go through. The author remarks that this may place him at a level others cannot reach. It is something the singer dwells on. Yesudas' father Augustine Joseph was a popular singer and stage actor. Their house in Cochin was open to friends and relatives without discrimination. Then, as the actor fell on bad days, the visitors dried up. Such experiences from his early life fuels Yesudas' singing.

5. Describe Yesudas' early days at Madras. 

In Madras, Yesudas often drank tap water to fill his stomach and tightened his mundu when even that didn't help. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, the prominent Carnatic Musician, allowed Yesudas to stay in his car shed. Yesudas repaid the kindness by cleaning the car every day. There was no question if entering the house or being fed anything the great singer and his family might eat. His time in Madras was full of hardships. However, it can be seen that he faced difficulties with determination.

6. Describe the irony perceived by Yesudas regarding his interactions with the singer Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. 

The irony perceived by Yesudas is the hospitality with which Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer received him when he visited the house of the famous Carnatic singer. During the period when Yesudas was residing in the car shed of Semmangudi, he was not offered any food from the house. However, when Yesudas visited Semmangudi years later, after being famous himself, he was received with all the respect and excitement his status now deserved. He was fed and honoured and given a choice of drinks- tea, coffee, or Horlicks. Years of privation having sharpened his sense of irony, Yesudas might have been forgiven for speculating on the difference a cup of tea or a glass of Horlicks might have made to his life some years earlier in the car shed.

7. What is the current situation prevailing in musical sabhas? In this context, give an example of how Yesudas managed an interruption during his performance. 

In recent years, musical sabhas have been paying obeisance to mammon. Sponsors have made passes available to their near and dear ones, resulting in much noise off-stage. Often children run about in the auditorium, unmindful of the performance on stage. In one of his shows, Yesudas hit a note, kept it there, and chided these children and their parents in an aside. Point made, he went back to the note and resumed his singing where he stopped. The author remarks that this ability of Yesudas is the mark of sheer genius.    
REF: Multiple Modernities, edited by Board of Editors, Kannur University, Cohin: Hornbill Publishing House, 2019. Print. 

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