Documentary featuring iconic composer Dikshitar's work screened to celebrate PM Modi's Chalo India initiative in US

Washington, Mar 9 (PTI) A documentary film delving into iconic composer Muthuswami Dikshitar's adaptation of Western tunes into Sanskrit lyrics in colonial India was screened at the Indian embassy here to celebrate the ‘Chalo India Global Diaspora Programme’.
    The film was made by Dr Krishnamurtha Kannikeswaran, popularly known as Kanniks -- an India-born American musician, scholar, composer, writer and music educator based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, often described as the “Magic Musician”.
    Dikshitar, born in Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu, was an Indian poet, singer, veena player, and composer of Indian classical music, considered one of the musical trinity of Carnatic music.
    Documentary film delves into Dikshitar's (1775-1835) adaptation of Western tunes into Sanskrit lyrics in colonial India.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the ‘Chalo India Global Diaspora Campaign’ to inspire the Indian diaspora to become Incredible India ambassadors and promote tourism to India. It is based on Prime Minister Modi's clarion call to the Indian diaspora to encourage at least five non-Indian friends to travel to India.
    Chennai-born Kannikeswaran said the urge behind documenting the work of Dikshitar was to share with the world the slice of the cultural history of India that the world does not know about.
    “In fact, a lot of people in India do not even know what the existence of Dikshitar or the fact that this kind of innovation happened 200 years ago.
    “I'm sure that when we delve into history, there's going to be a lot more such historical tidbits, and they all need to be celebrated and published and made available to the world. And that was the inspiration for this film,” he said.
    Sripriya Ranganathan, India’s Deputy Ambassador to the US, said the work of Kannikeswaran shines a light on Tamil culture, which occupies a place of pride in India's diverse cultural constellation.
    “We have always known that Tamil, along with Malayalam and Sanskrit forms ancient Indian languages. So much of Indian literature, Indian poetry, Indian music has been anchored in these languages,” she said.
    Kannikeswaran said Chalo India is a brilliant idea.
    “Interestingly, when I came to this country in the 1980s, one of the things that my uncle told me was, hey, remember this, when you go to the US, you're going to be part of the minority there. The country that you have come from will be judged by anything you say. So in that sense, you are an ambassador,” he said.
    “Now, the Prime Minister has actually called each one of us a cultural ambassador, and I think that's an important step in giving an identity to the whole thing and requesting people that are living here to invite their friends to come visit India. I think it's a tremendous initiative,” Kannikeswaran told PTI in response to a question.
    “They (when Americans travel to India) will see things in a week that they've not seen in a lifetime. As simple as that. They'll experience hospitality in a week that they've not experienced in a lifetime,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)