- Of all the stars in the Carnatic music galaxy from the 1930s through the 1980s, there was one that outshone the brilliance of the rest: the irrepressible genius, S Balachander, who stormed into the prim madras music scene with panache and eccentricity that no contemporary of his could match.
- The Veena Maestro began his music career at a time when stalwart vocalists ruled the roost and instrumentalists played second fiddle to them. But being an independent-minded and self -taught artist, Balachander carved a unique niche for himself as a veena soloist. He boldly changed the grammar of instrumental music, contemporized the veena and created a legacy known as the Balachander bani or style. The multifaceted musician was also an acclaimed chess prodigy and a pioneer in Tamil cinema.
- But Balachnder’s iconoclastic and brash ways earned him the ire of the Carnatic music fraternity: he was quick to pick quarrels with established fellow musicians in his lifelong quest for perfection and truth.
- So was him a beloved genius or a much-maligned maverick? The book attempts to recreate the towering personality that he was – a lot of this researched from his elaborate personal diaries.
- While his death in 1990 created a void in the Carnatic realm, the issues he fought for remain relevant till date, and his memory lives on in the minds of music connoisseurs. As the maestro himself would have smugly said: ‘Veena is Balachander, Balachander is Veenaa.’