Madurai in Tamil Nadu, also known as Madhurapuri, is home to two goddesses: Meenakshi Amman and Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi.” This is the first line of Amar Chitra Katha’s (ACK) latest title MS Subbulakshmi: Queen of Carnatic Music. The book that chronicles the life of Subbulakshmi — the first musician to be awarded the country’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna — and celebrates her contribution to Indian culture. It was launched last week at the Narada Gana Sabha music festival in Chennai. However, what separates this work from others of its ilk is that this biography has been presented in comic-book format.
Manas Mohan, COO of ACK Media, points out how this book is part of a series that throws light on the lives of visionaries. “The first book in this series focused on the life of Mother Teresa, followed by that of Jim Corbett. When we decided to come out with a book on a personality from the world of music, the name that came to mind was MS Subbulakshmi,” he says. Upcoming titles in the series will revolve around achievers from the fields of modern science and sports.
Reena Puri, editor at ACK, explains that this book traces the legendary musician’s life from her childhood in Madurai — where her talent was nurtured by her mother—- to her reaching the zenith of success and fame. Not surprisingly, putting together the book, which took approximately eight months, meant a lot of research.
“The scriptwriter was required to read as many books as she could on her. She met Subbulakshmi’s biographer, Gowri Ramnarayan (also her niece), and friends who knew her well. This apart, when I met Subbulakshmi’s grandson at an event in Bangalore and told him about the comic, the family was happy to know that it was being written,” recollects Puri.