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MS Subbulakshmi and the modern Indian feminine ideal by: Gayatri Sekar 3 years 11 months ago

Art, Books-Films

MS is known not just for her music but for what and whom she represented. Even though she was a rebellious young woman who beat all odds to succeed, her identity was constructed to please and appease, says the author. An interesting article that succinctly articulates the limits of being a female household name in India.

'A necessary corollary to the image was the need to de-sexualize the woman. In the case of MS for instance, she has consistently, both during her life and after, been painted as a saint. This alludes to not only the high devotional content of her music, but also a certain image of the woman that sees her exploring sexuality only within the institution of marriage. Predictably, references to MS’s fondness for G.N. Balasubramaniam, the great musician, have been met with outrage. A more acceptable version of the story is that this was but a fleeting infatuation of her younger days, with the MS as we knew her being far too spiritual for desire to matter. The control over women’s sexuality was crucial for perpetuating the idea of the new woman. She was not promiscuous and vulgar. She would transcend the material and sensory, and define the core of ‘Indian-ness’.

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