Monday 27 September 2021

Interview - An imaginary interview with Guru Gopinath - Part 1 - Tapati Chowdhurie

In my days of innocence I did not fully comprehend the greatness of my guru. Realization came to me as I matured. Guruji had prepared me to be a lover of the aesthetics of dance. I realized it more fully when I started writing on dance. I regret that as a writer on dance I had not taken his interview before he left his mortal body on October 9, 1987. I had missed the bus. However I took the help of his autobiography in Malayalam to get an insight into the making of a guru.

Babita Nair helped me with the English translation, which I have used in my imaginary interview of my Guru-Master.

Master, under what circumstances did you meet the American born dancer Esther Luella Sherman - known as Ragini Devi?
While I was a trainee in Kalamandalam, during the first week of October 1931, a woman from America, the famous dancer Ragini Devi arrived with Art writer G Venkitachalam. At that time, Guru Kunju Kurupp Asan was teaching mukha abhinayam (facial expressions) to us - i.e myself, Madhavan, Sivaraman, Kelu Nair, Krishnan Nair etc. According to the instructions of Mukundaraja, each of us performed one of the Navarasas for Ragini Devi and Venkitachalam. I performed sringaram and roudram rasas. Once the Navarasa abhinaya was over, Ragini Devi enquired from Mukundaraja about my age and my practise period; he translated her question in Malayalam for me. I had just crossed 23 with 11 years of training (both in the Northern and Southern style) of Kathakali.

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