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Kalanidhi Maami
- Manjula Amaresh

March 5, 2016

Kalanidhi Narayanan (fondly called as Maami) used to visit Dubai to see her son. I had moved to Dubai with my husband Amaresh. I had heard about and watched many of Maami's abhinaya. Through Deepa Ganesh, (another disciple of Kalanidhi Narayanan) I got to know that Maami was conducting an abhinaya workshop. Though it was a 2 hour drive (one way) to Maami's house, I didn't want to lose the opportunity to learn from the great veteran.

From day one, Maami made me feel very comfortable. It was here that I started admiring Maami for her calmness, humility and she was beyond a Guru. A special bond was being formed then. Maami's eyes would sparkle when she used to emote abhinaya and her sudden switching over from a casual conversation to abhinaya would give me goose bumps. Maami's best creativity was the way she used to depict a “word” in a song in so many ways and it was really a challenge for students to grasp that, understand and practice.

Manjula with Maami

Savitri Jagannath Rao, Manjula, Maami

Later, I moved to Hong Kong and further moved to Chennai. I once again had the opportunity to continue my classes from Maami for six years and was blessed to learn from her regularly on one to one basis. During this tenure, apart from abhinaya, I also learnt to preserve our culture, punctuality, discipline, hard work, sincerity, dedication and much more. She played a role of a guru, mother, guide, philosopher and friend. I was blessed to have the unique opportunity to perform “Abhinaya” exclusively for Maami's father's birthday.

Kalanidhi Maami was a world to me. Even after moving to Bangalore, a single day does not pass without remembering her. I still feel she is around with her expressive eyes on me!

Manjula Amaresh is a senior disciple of the Dhananjayans, and Kalanidhi Narayanan in abhinaya. She is the director of Bharathaanunada school for Bharatanatyam in Bangalore.


Manjula's tribute to Kalanidhi Maami. Appreciate her genuine love regard of Maami whom we all loved and admired. Manjula has of course learned Padams from Maami. When students mention that they are disciples of a particular teacher and learned Abhinaya from Maami, it sounds a bit odd, as though the teachers do not teach Abhinaya. We do teach in depth abhinaya while teaching the repertoire.
I think, they may claim or add to their credit having learned few 'Padams from Maami.' But total credit for a student's abhinaya prowess cannot be accredited to Maami alone. Or the disciples could say in their bio data that they had the privilege of learning a few Abhinaya padams from Kalanidhi Maami.
- Naatyaachaarya V.P.Dhananjayan (April 1, 2016)

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