‘Commission’ controversy rocks Dasara festivities
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‘Commission’ controversy rocks Dasara festivities

October 14, 2023

Sarod maestro Pandit Rajeev Taranath fumes over outrageous demand; cancels concert 

Mysore/Mysuru: Renowned Sarod maestro and Padmashri awardee, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, often referred to as the ‘Sarod wizard,’ unexpectedly found himself in a peculiar situation after he received an invitation from Dasara officials to perform at this year’s Dasara cultural programme. However, the invitation took an unforeseen turn when he received an anonymous call asking for a ‘commission’ as part of his compensation.

Pandit Rajeev Taranath, well-known for his straightforwardness and integrity, expressed his dismay at the officials’ request for a ‘commission’ after the terms of his performance had already been agreed upon.

Kickback demand

According to reports, Pandit Taranath’s performance at the Mysore Palace had been initially scheduled, and the fee had been settled. However, two officials later approached him, offering him an additional sum of Rs. 3 lakh to be added to the previously agreed-upon remuneration. They assured him that the extra amount would be transferred via RTGS to his account but sought a kickback in return.

Reports suggest that Pandit Taranath reprimanded the officials who had made the commission request and firmly declined their demand, refusing to be a party to such unethical practices. Consequently, his performance in the Dasara cultural programme was cancelled.

Prior performances

Pandit Rajeev Taranath is a 91-year-old veteran artiste and a highly respected figure in the world of Sarod music. With a massive global fan base, he has graced the Dasara cultural stage with his performance on six previous occasions. Typically, artistes are not allowed to perform for three years after their last appearance.

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In Pandit Taranath’s case, he was invited again this year due to his exceptional prior performances. However, the officials’ unfamiliarity with his reputation and straightforward demeanour appeared to have made this commission request.

Reflecting on this incident, Pandit Rajeev Taranath emphasised the exploitation of artistes through commission activities and expressed his strong disapproval. He also raised concerns about the challenging environment for local artistes in contrast to other States where local artists are encouraged.

I am a person from the field of art music, and I am disappointed with the issue. I had no desire for this. I hold American citizenship and I was a professor at the California Institute of the Arts, where renowned scholars were professors. I was the third professor from India. You must understand why I came to Karnataka and now I feel disappointed about coming. No official contacted me regarding the Dasara programme. I received an anonymous call and I have informed the same to the officials. —Pandit Rajeev Taranath, speaking to reporters at his house today.

‘An insult’

In response to the controversy, C.R. Himamshu, Secretary of the Sri Prasanna Vidya Ganapathi Mahotsava Charitable (SPVGMC) Trust, V.V. Mohalla, which organises the annual Ganesha Music Festival, urged Chief Minister Siddharamaiah to intervene and order an investigation.

“This insult to Pandit Taranath is shocking and demeaning, and the incident casts a dark shadow on the Government and Dasara festivities. An investigation must be ordered, and the guilty officers must be punished,” he stated.

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