Chennai: Sundaram Finance Sunday Kutcheri in the Park has created a national record by entering the Limca Book of Records 2016 for the longest running, non-commercial, open air musical programme for children.
Sundaram Finance began organising the mikeless concerts 10 years ago for children below 15 years of age on the first Sunday of every month at Nageswara Rao Park in Mylapore and it became a runaway hit.
Sundaram Finance Limited managing director T T Srinivasaraghavan, the man behind the mikeless kutcheri concept, received the certificate from Limca on 25 January at the Sundaram Finance office on Patullos Road, Chennai.
Srinivasaraghavan shares his joy with News Today on entering the Limca Book of Records 2016.
Q: Which year did this plan for a Sunday Kutcheri begin and what was the reason for starting it?
A: It was the spirit of the Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival that led to the spin-off, in February 2006, for the Sunday Kutcheri at Nageswara Rao Park. As part of this festival, we had been organising concerts in the park once a year during the four days of the festival right from 2003. We have also been maintaining the park for over a dozen years and it was our endeavour to use it constructively with regular activities for children.
The feedback actually came from the audience at the Nageswara Rao Park. They suggested that we should look at it more frequently and not restrict ourselves to just once a year. And that was the inspiration for the monthly Sunday Kutcheri here that we launched in February 2006.
We chose to focus on young children - ‘catch them young’ - children below 15 years, as we believed it would help them shed their inhibitions and give them the confidence to move up to the next level. To us, the first Sunday of every month is their ‘day’. The young children are the ‘stars’ of the show.
For most children, this is their first concert. A committee from Sundaram Finance conducts an audition to select the students.
'No mikes, no speakers' is another one of our concepts. We did not want to disturb the peace of the morning walkers with loud music and, hence, consciously stayed away from mikes and speakers. Being an open-air concert, amidst falling leaves and curious birds chirping around the park, we believed we will be able to bring out the best in the children if they performed without the help of mikes and speakers.
Q: When did the panel and selection committee from Limca arrive and on what basis was the certificate given?
A: We went through an elaborate process with the Limca Book of Records providing complete background on the Kutcheri in the Park including sending them CDs comprising photographs and details of all the concerts since 2006. Incidentally, we also uploaded on YouTube a number of concerts of the young artistes.
We provided them with complete data on each one of the concerts and the artistes who had performed at Nageswara Rao Park. Based on their analysis, this was indeed a national record for the longest running, open air, mikeless concert in the country.
Q: Can you tell us about the criteria for this record and do you think more singers will be encouraged to participate in this kutcheri especially after receiving this recognition?
A: In the initial phase, in 2006, we wondered if the participants would really like this concept and if we would have enough interest in this ‘never-before-tried mikeless, open air format’. But very soon and quite unexpectedly, we encountered a happy problem. Applications poured in and we had a serious backlog of children who had cleared the audition. And that’s when we decided seven years ago, to expand the format to include a three-day Navarathri Special Kutcheri in the Park. We think the kutcheri has emerged as a nice launch platform for young musical talent to showcase their skills.
Q: What are your plans to expand the kutcheri?
A: The Kutcheri in the Park has expanded over the years and we now have Sunday Kutcheri on the first Sunday of every month, a three-day Navarathri Kutcheri during the Navarathri season and a concert as part of the annual Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival in January every year. We have been following the same schedule for many years and plan to continue with it.