In the Preface to the book, the young author thanks “all the musicians, dancers, critics, Subbudu’s friends and enemies” for their time and inputs. During his long innings as a critic Subbudu attracted many “friends and enemies” who spiced up his unusual life. Most Delhi Tamils know that “Subbudu” and “controversy” are synonymous. His critical faculty and equally sharp tongue often caused resentment among those at the receiving end. His turn of phrase and biting sarcasm made him a critic much admired and feared. Asked how the dance “scene” was on his return from a city, his brief “obscene” left no room for further enquiry! Fidgeting through an amateurish dance recital mangling a kriti in the raga “Nagabharanam”, he fiercely muttered “What ornament is this?” A friend commented that the dancer was lucky not to be shredded to pieces in the auditorium itself. Yet, seated in the middle row hearing T.V. Sankaranarayanan’s Kambodi alapana, you could see him emotionally overcome. “What shall I sing?” – “Kaana kannkoti”. One singer and one rasika face to face – the rest of us mere observers’. Subbudu’s early life in Burma saw Subbudu growing up to the sound of his sisters’ Carnatic music lessons. The enthusiasm of his family for music and theatre provided him a chance to interact with Carnatic stalwarts who visited Burma for concerts.
August 2006, volume 30, No 8