Guru Deba Prasad Award and Festival
- Ashish Mohan Khokar, Bangalore
Photos: Ashish Chowdhury
April 8, 2011
Guru Deba Prasad died very young at 56. His talented children got little support and his students too suffered. That was almost 25 years ago to date. His prime products, Durga Charan Ranbir and Gajendra Panda have kept alive the guru's memory through many able students and works.
Mounting festivals have become popular and necessary, as new audiences need to be created. This festival mounted by Guru Gajendra Panda, the do-gooder of Orissi at large, was over-shadowed by cricket semi-finals, when India played Pakistan. Despite that, there were 300 rasikas of Orissi or Odisha who came and enjoyed the first day fare that included bestowing of the 4th Guru Deba Prasad Das award on Dr. Yamini Krishnamurthi, India's first and last prima ballerina, the dance icon.
Fast forward to March end Odisha, when funds dry up but not the watering holes of Bhubaneswar! It seems all of Orissa is drinking alcohol now. I spot an Orissi singer of repute, missing college and sitting at lunch drinking at the Bhubaneswar Club when we arrive and others continue till wee hours of the next morning. They say, drinking helps singing!
Dancers remain territorial and jealous of each other in Odisha (not that it does not happen so in Delhi or Madras, Bangalore being much less) so all the current crops of established dancers did not show up on the first day…one came in at 10.30pm, when all had finished and just wished to show her attendance! Yes, attendance 2011 issue was launched on that day, for the first time ever in Orissa, as the issue also features a few exceptional Orissi male soloists. The launch honours were done by Yamini Krishnamurthi and enlightened and cultured Secretary of Tourism and Culture Dr. Ashok Tripathy received the first copy. People love books; few buy them!
Satyanarayana Raju next was loved for sheer beauty, inner calm and outer repose, by all who saw him perform. Few had seen such calming Bharatanatyam of yore. There was grace, there was depth and contentment. With his benign face, this Bangalore boy is a delight to the rasika and layman alike. Yamini calls him the one blessed with “deva shakti.” That sums up Satya.
Gajendra Panda may not be the best organizer but he is good choreographer and guru. His heart is in dance, the body follows. The Guru Deba Prasad festival ended on a fulfilling note.
Ashish Mohan Khokar travels all over India and brings to note dancers of merit, through his writings, columns and yearbook, attendance. India's reputed and widely-read dance critic, his words help dancers and audiences understand and appreciate the art of dance and the actual performance, better.
www.attendance-india.com / www.dancearchivesofindia.com