'If religion doesn't reinforce humanity, why do we have it?'

Updated: Dec 07, 2019, 17:14 IST | Prachi Sibal | Mumbai

Musician TM Krishna has more questions than answers ahead of his performance in the city, the first in a series of Concerts for Peace

Pic/S Hariharan
Pic/S Hariharan

What is the definition of a place cut out for performance? How is a place with so much hope and life lesser than one with great sound? We are greeted with a volley of questions, much before we start on ours. Then again, that is Magsaysay awardee TM Krishna's specialty.

In the city for a performance, at the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue that receives the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award of Merit, he kicks of Concerts for Peace in partnership with city-based First Edition Arts and support from the JSW group. It isn't the first time Krishna is performing at a religious space, and he believes this has become the need of the hour.

"At a time when the country is going through such ferocious religious contestation, this is a way to rediscover the secular constitution of the arts," he says. The idea materialised after a conversation with Devina Dutt of First Edition Arts who is now curator for the initiative. Though he admits there was no specific reason to choose the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue. "Devina is from Mumbai and knew the place had been renovated recently. I saw the pictures and it looked gorgeous," he says.

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue
Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue

The concert, this Sunday, has no set list but Krishna assures us that it will include multi-religious context and a Jewish song. Not one for rehearsals, he isn't worried about the acoustics, or the lack of them, in a space that isn't designed for performance. "It gives you an atmosphere and a certain quietude, something that the best sound in the world cannot replicate. It transcends individual identities and that is the kind of place where art flourishes," he says. "Performing at the Afghan Church in Mumbai was an incredible experience. These are the places where people come together with a lot of hope and heritage spaces come with a sense of so much life," he adds.

The Carnatic musician isn't new on the Mumbai circuit either and has performed at several of the city's institutions, in his trademark style, that makes the young and old throng them. Talking about the city and its significance as the venue for the first such concert, he says, " The most relevant aspect of Mumbai is not that it is the financial capital, but the fact that it symbolises the coming together of many people of different castes, religions and classes and the ease with which these relationships form on the streets and the trains". He goes on to say ",I love the fact that so many younger people come to my shows in Mumbai. It truly is a reflection of contemporary India".

The plan ahead is to see the response that emerges from the show and chart a path ahead. Krishna tells us, he hasn't planned the next show yet and can hardly predict where this journey will take him. "We hope to find many partners across faiths," is all he says.

On December 8, 5.15 pm
At Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, 55, VB Gandhi Road, Fort
Call 9820051020

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