Thursday 29 April 2021

Pt Rajan Mishra's exit - a bolt from the blue - Dr S D Desai


Pt Sajan Mishra, Pt Rajan Mishra

I may be excused this personal reference at the outset. For two full days following the unbelievable news of Pt Rajan Mishra having passed away, with only a nodding acquaintance with classical music I continually kept listening to vocal recitals by Pt Rajan-Sajan Mishra. Such has been the enduring quality of their voice seeking to be one with the Nada Brahma. In an interview, Rajanji once observed, "At a time when our heart centre is drying, it's music that enriches it."

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Friday 16 April 2021

Navarasa Sadhana - Breath control for emoting in art - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

Deep research into the technique of evoking the nine aesthetic sentiments or 'rasas' through the control of breath, by three generations of scholars in Kerala belonging to Kodungallur royal family, starting with Vidwan IlayaThampuran to Bhagavatar Kunjunni Thampuran, is what led to the discipline of Navarasa Sadhanam. The Kutiyattam master, late Mani Madhav Chakyar was one who constantly brought to bear on his extraordinary performances, this technique discovered by the Kodungallur family. Kutiyattam specialist G.Venu of Natana Kairali of Irinjalakuda, through years of deep inquiry into Kunjunni Thampuran's mind- boggling technique, became more and more convinced that this traditional knowledge system had to be made more accessible to enrich the contemporary performing artiste's technique.

Egged on by Sasitharan Tirunalan of the intercultural Theatre Institute, and actor Kalyani Balaji from Maharashtra, in 2005 G.Venu, with some trepidation, embarking on a Navarasa Sadhana workshop for performers of various art disciplines, met with thundering response. And this attempt became a forerunner to yearly efforts, in which over a thousand actors over the years have participated. This year, the 50th Navarasa Sadhana workshop, held under the auspices of Natana Kairali, as every year, attracted dancers and actors from different areas, with Kapila Venu, the Kutiyattam performer moderating with very brief introductions.

Tom Kingdon, Professor Emeritus, Emerson College Boston, well known theatre person who was with the Royal Shakespeare Company for twenty years, began his inaugural address for Navarasa Sadhana, lauding the immaculately trained bodies of Kerala's Kalaripayattu and Kutiyattam performers - able in a trice, of evoking all shades of emotion - this purely physical enterprise being without any personal emotional involvement on the part of the actor.

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Sunday 11 April 2021


MANDALA X / CREATION: A DANCE ORATORIO was inspired by "The Hymn of Creation", a 3,000-year-old Sanskrit hymn from the Rig Veda. One of the first known speculations on the origins of the universe - considered the oldest statement of philosophic doubt in world literature - "The Hymn of Creation" reverberates with eternal questions which have intrigued humankind.

In 1976, my father's friend Dr. Mary Blade gave me the book Hymns from the Rig-Veda, translated by Jean Le Mee, published by A.Knopf in 1975, with photographs by Ingbert Gruttner. This gift started me on a choreographic journey, culminating twenty years later in the production MANDALA X - CREATION - A Dance Oratorio, which premiered on the Vernal Equinox, 20 March 1997.

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Saturday 10 April 2021

Obit/Tribute - Shanmukha Ratna V.S. Amarnath Sury - Vijay Shanker

V.S. Amarnath Sury, hon Secretary of Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, left for his heavenly abode on 2nd April 2021, after a long battle of ill health; he was regularly going through dialysis. He was 79 and leaves behind his wife, daughter and son.

Amarnath Sury was born on November 3,1941 and is the grandson of Umayalpuram Krishna Bhagawathar, the direct disciple of saint Tygaraja. In a career spanning four decades in Gem and Jewelry trade, he was associated with the Gem and Jewelry Council of India (1979 -2003) as its executive director; after retirement he continued as the advisor. From 2006-2017 he was General manager of Diamond India Ltd.

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Thursday 8 April 2021

Interview - Poornima Ashok: A lot is there to be done - Vijay Shanker

One of the foremost Bharatanatyam exponents, teacher and choreographer, Bangalore based Poornima Ashok talks about her experiences that has spanned more than four decades, her recent performance at the Khajuraho Festival and much more.

How was your experience performing for Khajuraho festival along with your disciple?

I was invited to perform there in 2011. Unfortunately my father passed away and I had to cancel the program. But now in 2021, we were overwhelmed, indeed it was a dream come true. The joy we experienced is something that cannot be described in words. Since the festival was conducted inside the premises for the first time, with the temple as backdrop, the ambience was heavenly and we felt like apsaras.

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Sunday 4 April 2021

The plain speaking puppets - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Chi Chi Land, a puppet play mounted on March 21 (incidentally, also the World Puppetry Day) by Kolkata’s well-known Dolls Theatre, was a most eloquent case in point to illustrate the master puppeteer’s observation. Written by Debiprasad Sengupta, its story had three pivotal points of a perfectly funny children’s story, namely, two innocent brothers’ indulging in child like quarrels on being left-handed or right-handed in habits; their falling apart (under external provocation) into dividing their parental land between themselves with a wall erected in between; and their eventual (again being provoked) resolve to seriously fight against each other starting with stones and slings, and ending with guns, canons and missiles. All these sad events leave their growing children utterly bewildered as to why they can no longer play among themselves, because of the divisive wall and the frightening uproar made around them by the swishing weapons of the adults!

Conceived by the gifted young puppeteer Sudip Gupta, an awardee of Sangeet Natak Akademi, the play presented very eloquent string-puppets comprising the two playful brothers and their grown-up counterparts and one real life theatre actor Tom Tom (played well by Utsav Rauth with a stylish make-up) as the arch villain – with crafty interventions and making thereby his own pots of money! – made the perfect staple for enjoyment of children and adults alike. This was clearly evident among the surging viewers on a post-endemic Sunday proscenium audience. Mingling skillful traditional puppetry with real action human characters is a recent trend that has emerged among contemporary puppeteers and Sudip made full use of the trend to make his boisterous children’s tale to make its points!

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Thursday 1 April 2021

Anita says...April 2021

 The virus licks my torn soul, guilt tripping me

I sing a love song to it, tempting the faint thump,
Causing my heart to fissure its fatty lumps; pretend
I live on a moon of my own landing, turn my flesh
Inside out, listen to the chirping of birds, amazed

That so much beauty could still exist, amid club-like
Spikes that crush the breathing soul...
A pestilence that asks for enormous surcharges, lethal
As the protean cry of daggers, stabbing me yet again.

Quietly slithering out, a warlike stratagem, as
Birds orchestrate their cheerful songs to one another...

Gone, I struggle with myself, umpteen times more

By Nishi Chawla
From the anthology SINGING IN THE DARK
Global poetry under lockdown
Publisher Penguin Vintage

Well... have you?
Have you become bored with watching online dance?
Are you ready to SCREAM with frustration as another lockdown looms large?
Are you ready to vote for your next State Chief Minister? (this for those citizens of certain Indian states)

I am saying YES to all the above.

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