In gesture of appreciation: Launch of Bharat Muni Samman
- Vijay Shanker, Mumbai
January 12, 2012
This interview spotlights renowned Mohiniattam and Kathakali exponent and dance educationist Dr. Kanak Rele on the occasion of the launching of the Bharat Muni Samman on 22nd January at Kalangan of Ravindra Natya Mandir in Mumbai. The veteran dancer talks briefly about the significance of the awards and dance education in India.
How did this idea of launching the Bharat Muni Samman come about?
I have been privileged to receive various awards like the Kalidas Samman in 2006 and the Padmashri and other awards. During my career, I have been interacting with lot of cultural and literary personalities concerning my research work in Mohiniattam and while writing books on dance. When I reflect back on the work, I realized that it is high time that I must contribute and express my gratitude to these veterans whom I have selected for the award.
Who are the award winners?
They are all giants in their respective fields. The winners are Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, renowned art historian and scholar for Indology, Kavalam Narayana Panicker for theatre and musicology. I have been associated with him for a long time. Moreover, he has composed Mohiniattam music too for me based on Sopana sangeetam. Kishori Amonkar for Hindustani music, Ramankutty Nair for Kathakali and Prof. Suresh Upadhyay for Sanskrit and Indian philosophy. I do not know whether Kapila-ji would be able to come as I am told she is quite indisposed but would possibly send her representative. The award carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs.51,000.
Do you feel that classical arts are declining?
Not really, there are many youngsters who are seriously pursuing the classical arts with dedication. Our cultural heritage and history spans thousands of years hence the arts can’t decline in spite of the onslaught of western culture.
Did you face any difficulty in establishing the first college of dance, affiliated to the University of Mumbai?
The Nalanda Dance Research Centre and the Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya have been functioning with first class results for more than thirty years, possibly the only centre to be recognised by the department of science and technology. Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya is the only college of dance to be affiliated to the University of Mumbai. When I presented the proposal of establishing a college of dance, the Vice Chancellor was Dr. TK Tope. He was convinced and it was a milestone achievement for me.
Which are the styles of dance that are instructed?
We have Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathakali and Odissi. We have the foundation course, the hobby class for children in the evening and degrees from Bachelors, Masters to the doctorate level. As you may be aware, many Nalanda students have become professionals in various parts of the country and abroad too.
Do you have male students as well?
Deepak Mazumdar is the senior most male student of mine, after that we had Vaibhav Arekar and few others. It is quite encouraging to get more male students; their number is on the increase definitely.
How significant is the theory part of dance?
It is extremely important as students should know the meaning and the technical aspect of dance, then they can emote better and dance well too.
Any future programs?
The young dancers’ festival organised by Nalanda starts on 20th January in the same premises. 16 dancers from various parts of country are selected to perform in different styles and the best dancer will be provided with the Nritya Nipuna award.
Respected Ms. Kanak Rele,
This is in response to the interview titled Launch of Bharat Muni Samman. We would like to state that we have been organizing Bharat Muni Festival and hosting Bharat Muni Samman since last 4 years in Bhubaneswar with patronage of dept of Culture Govt of Odisha, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India, Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi and ICCR. Please look into the article published in The Hindu recently.
Hence we would like to mention that Bharat Muni Samman was not launched recently and it was launched by Kalingayana Touryatrikam at Bhubaneswar in the year 2008. The awardees include Thankamani Kutty, Pt Birju Maharaj, Pt Jasraj and Ratan Thiyam. Artists like Yella Venkateswar Rao, Madhavi Mudgal, Ranjana Gauhar, Ronu Majumdar, Ananda Shankar Jayant, Narasimhalu Vadavatti, Saswati Sen, Geeta Mahalik, George Brooks and many more have performed in the festival during last four years. Journalists and dance critics like Dr. Sunil Kothari, Leela Venkataraman, Rabindra Mishra, Sashi Prabha Tiwari and Shyamhari Chakra have been witnessing the festival for the last four years. The festival has been inaugurated by the Hon. Governor of Odisha, Hon. CM of Odisha and Hon. Minister of Culture, Govt of Odisha.
Hereby we request your kind self to change the name of the festival and the award that you have launched recently to avoid duplication and confusion in the mind of art lovers.
(Feb 10, 2012)
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