Thursday 9 March 2017

Shruti Mandal heralds half a century of service to Indian Arts - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

I recollect how in 1964, eyes shining with fiery plans for spreading art knowhow in Rajasthan, particularly Jaipur, Kaushal Bhargav had in a private conversation told me about how he had started Shruti Mandal in Jaipur with the patronage of a prosperous local business magnate - late Prakash Chand Surana who shared his love for the arts. For Kaushal Bhargav, a bachelor who spent all his life’s efforts in the cause of creating and spreading art, any production on the theme of Rajasthan, the land, the tableaux, getting group dance scenes of dances of Rajasthan, presenting classical dances before the general population, exchanging ideas with Jaspal Singh who headed the cultural unit of Ashok Hotel, was forever engaged in myriad art spreading activities.
He started the Uday Shankar festival in Jaipur and one remembers the early instances when a variety of dances were featured in different venues. Going through the fifty year activities documented in their publication ‘Adi sadi ka sunahara safar’ is like going through a who’s who of the Indian performing arts world. It is replete with photographs of archival value - a very youthful Yamini Krishnamurti, Sonal Mansingh, Uma Sharma, or a young Basavarajaguru or Sharan Rani Mathur, or a boyish Vijay Kichlu -all in the starting years of their career looking at you in these pages. There were, I remember, in Jaipur of those days, the odd few art scholars like Komal Kothari who were engaged in doing very detailed, sophisticated research while providing patronage and working with Rajasthan’s (what have now become) world famous musical families - the Manganiyars and the Langas.  Kaushal Bhargav’s efforts were more for the general public and his contribution to Rajasthan’s art encouragement is highly valued today. Shruti Mandal, now celebrating fifty years of work in promoting art, remembers with a deep sense of gratitude the pioneering zeal and guidance provided to their organization by the founder, Kaushal Bhargav.  

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