Lec-dem on Annamacharya
- Mala Mohan

June 30, 2013

Under the aegis of Encee Academy of Performing Arts, Usha Raghavan (Director of Kalasagara, UK) along with her senior disciples presented a delightful and enlightening lecture / demonstration on the ‘Life and Kritis of the 15th century poet saint Annamacharya’ on the 23rd June 2013. The group performed to a packed audience at the Patidar House, Wembley. The Chief Guest for the evening was Kamisetty Srinivasulu, scholar and director of the Annamacharya Project TTD, Tirupati, who spoke eloquently about Saint Annamacharya and his immense contribution to the world of poetry and music.

Kamisetty Srinivasulu

Usha Raghavan

Tallapaka Annamacharya is a prolific composer of the 15th century who composed keertanas in praise of Lord Venkateswara. He is said to have composed as many as 36,000 keertanas of which only about 12,000 are available today. His songs are classified into the Adhyaatma (spiritual) and Sringaara (romantic) keertanas. Usha Raghavan chose 9 exquisite compositions depicting the Adhyaatma philosophy and choreographed them in the most befitting manner, some of which she performed as a solo (Enthamatramuna, Muddugare Yashoda and Ksheerabdi). Usha commenced the lec-dem with an engaging Thodayamangalam that combined the lyrics of many of Annamacharya’s compositions strung into a garland of different ragas and talas (Ragatalamalika).
What was most appealing about the lec-dem was the detailed explanation Usha gave of the lyrics of each of the songs that were performed. It was further enhanced by an illustration of the emotions captured in each of the items by her disciples. This was then followed by the actual performance of each song. The other popular songs that were chosen for the evening were Sriman Narayana, Dolayam, Bhavayami gopalabalam, Indariki and Brahmam Okate. The composition Bhavayami Gopalabalam was a solo presentation by one of Usha’s senior disciples, Jayashree Sundaresan. Her performance was replete with graceful movements and immaculate abhinaya. Another neat and pleasing solo performance was that of Meena Rajagopalan who chose the composition Indariki. The rest of the songs were performed as a group with perfect coordination.

Usha’s solo performances were a visual treat for the audience. Her abhinaya and overall choreography of all the compositions stood out for their clarity and subtlety.  The elegance with which she explained and performed each item had the audience in rapt attention. It was overall a very informative and lively lecture demonstration. ‘At the end of the day, it was as if I visited Thirumala for a day’ was how an audience member put it. One couldn’t agree more with her. The other dancers who complemented the evening ably were Seema Menon, Kripali Patel, Karishma Bajaria and Krishalini Manimuthu.
Mala Mohan is a grade A Carnatic vocalist for AIR. She is also a guest lecturer at the Queen Marys College, Chennai, Dept of Music. She completed an M. Phil in Indian music and is presently doing a doctorate in Niravals, the backbone of Manodharma Sangeetham. She has presented many papers at international and national seminars of music and conducts workshops in India and abroad.