Natya Parampara Utsav
- G. Ulaganathan
Photos: Shandilya Srivatsa, RN Sudhi

October 28, 2016

The third edition of Natya Parampara Utsav 2016, organised by Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation, Banglore in the last week of October in Bangalore provided a platform for three styles of dance. KPF, led by its artistic director and Kuchipudi exponent Deepa Narayanan Sashindran, conducts classes, organises workshops, performances and has its wings spread out to Calicut in Kerala apart from Bangalore.  KPF has had two annual festivals so far.

Deepa has been performing for nearly three decades and was initially trained by Manju Bhargavi and later had a brief spell of training under Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar. She lives and breathes Kuchipudi but in the KPF festival, apart from felicitating a veteran guru, there are at least three different styles presented on stage by well known artistes. This year’s festival was inaugurated by Gangamma Keshavmurthy, chairperson, Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy. On the occasion a video documentary on senior Kuchipudi exponent Guru Bhagavatula Yagna Narayana Sharma was screened.

Maalyada Anand

Deepa Sashindran

Ramayana Shabdam

Kalamandalam Vyshak and troupe

The evening performances began with dancer Maalyada Anand, a disciple and daughter in law of renowned Kuchipudi Guru A. B. Bala Kondala Rao, Visakhapatnam.  Maalyada is now working as an Assistant Professor, Department of Performing Arts, Alliance University, Bangalore. The Kuchipudi segment concluded with Deepa’s brief recital wherein she presented `Chandrasekharam’, a composition of Bellary M Sheshagiri Achar, and followed it up with a slokam on Lord Shiva. Then came Jayadeva’s ashtapadi in which Krishna expresses his love for Radha.

Ajay Kumar
The Vijayawada-based Ajay Kumar charmed the audience with a brilliant solo in female costume. The transformation of this young man into a coy, at times tempestuous Satyabhama, was amazing and he is probably the sole female impersonator on the Kuchipudi scene today. Finally her students Vinu Amabadi, Sreejil Babu, Haneesh Panicker, Greeshma performed Ramayana Shabdam.
This was followed by felicitation to Bharatanatyam exponent of Bangalore, Pulikeshi Kasthuri. The highlight of the evening, of course, was the vibrant Kathakali performance by Kalamandalam Vyshak and troupe from Kerala. They chose an interesting confrontation between Hanuman and Bhima in the forest.

Unfortunately, in these festivals, felicitations take a long time and at least five or six people being `honoured’ and then each one of them being asked to speak takes away the audience’s patience. One felt sorry for the brilliant Kathakali artistes who had to wait for a long time with the make-up on and finally when they got a chance to perform at around 9pm, almost three fourths of the hall was empty. And theirs was the best performance of the evening!

Organising a festival is no doubt difficult but one should also learn time management and decide on priorities. Artistes or guests, who should get important space and time?

G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.