Madras Music Academy banned seven musicians from in its line-up for December last week.
A federation of sabhas or the groups that organise Carnatic music concerts in Chennai have instituted anti-sexual harassment committees after some musicians from the city were called out in the MeToo movement that has swept the country.
As many as nine such sabhas that host internationally-acclaimed concerts in the city in every December formed committees comprising eminent people from different walks of life to look into the allegations of sex harassment.
Popular Tamil singer Chinmayi Sripaada recently named many senior musicians who alleged to have sought sexual favours from artistes based on anonymous ‘confessions’ by the victims. The federation of sabhas, however, said it would not act on anonymous allegations, but urged the victims to send their complaints to them, promising that their identities would be protected.
“You know it’s a blot on the art itself. So, we need to take this up seriously. But debarring any accused without an inquiry may actually be counterproductive,” said K Harishankar, Secretary of the Federation of City Sabhas.
Celebrated singer T M Krishna who was part of a public hearing on sexual harassment recently said the sabhas should frame guidelines to keep inappropriate behaviour against young artists under check.
“We have to rethink the whole dynamics of the teacher and the student, the guru and shishya. We have to rethink the dynamics of what happens in public spaces, what happens at concerts, what happens after concerts, between sabha secretaries and artistes, between sponsors and artistes, between patrons and artistes,” he said.
Mr Krishna said some “horrible incidents” related to sexual harassment took place that shook the music fraternity.
Last week, the renowned Madras Music Academy banned seven musicians from in its line-up for December after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against them. Two of them have since denied allegations.
Rejecting allegations made by a young female disciple against him anonymously, vocalist Thyagarajan told NDTV: “Nothing of that kind had happened. I don’t remember anything. The action taken by Music Academy will not affect me.
But another known musician Ravikiran named in the #MeToo movement has decided to stay away from concerts till his name is cleared.
“Taking a stance to suspend my performances until I can clear the air to my satisfaction,” he has tweeted.
Responding to Mr Krishna’s suggestions, Harishankar said the federation is willing to formulate a policy that would address the issue of sexual harassment.
The MeToo movement, which began in the United States more than a year ago after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, gained traction in India in September, after actor Tanushree Dutta accused her co-star Nana Patekar of sexual harassment. Since then, several men in the media, entertainment, political and art worlds have been accused of offences ranging from sexual harassment to rape.
Mr Krishna said organising workshops for artistes and general public to sensitise them about what constitutes sexual harassment would be helpful.