COVER STORY - Together every step of the way by V. Ramnarayan
The Dhananjayans’ names are inextricably linked with Rukmini Devi’s Kalakshetra – probably even more so than if V.P. Dhananjayan had not left Adyar’s iconic institution of classical dance back in 1967, after being identified for years as the institution’s star performer, the parting of ways complete when wife Shanta left three years later. Today, still superbly preserved, and still dancing on the performing stage, besides globetrotting to teach students and teachers in several parts of the world, Shanta and Dhananjayan, among the seniormost Bharatanatyam duos anywhere, utter the name of their alma mater with reverence and gratitude at every available opportunity. Permanent, however, seem the wounds inflicted over four decades ago by the opprobrium that attached itself to them when Rukmini Devi’s favourite pupil of the time decided to sever the umbilical connection.
MAIN FEATURE - Vaggeyakara and tunesmith by N. Ramanathan
Balamuralikrishna’s musical genius is evident in his varied compositions in Carnatic music as well as films. He has set tunes for songs of many composers whose original musical scores are no longer available, as for instance, those of Jayadeva, Annamacharya, Purandaradasa, Bhadrachala Ramadas and Sadasiva Brahmendra. Many musicians hold the view that he has tuned afresh many songs of Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastry and others which he has brought to light. He has composed both the text and tune for his own songs. Tunesmith His tunes for the lyrics of early composers are not in an overtly classical mode but reveal themselves as the work of an expert. His tunes reach the common music enthusiast and the knowledgeable musician alike. Initially, the music sounds so captivating that we do not stop to think about the idea behind the melody. For instance, the music he has set for Sadasiva Brahmendra’s Gayati vanamali envelopes you so much that you do not try to explore and discover that the song is set in Hamsadhwani raga sung at the madhyama sruti. It is difficult to imagine Hamsadhwani giving rise to such melodious structures. Generally we are only familiar with the Hamsadhwani of Vatapi Ganaptim bhaje, the greater part of which sounds like sarali and tara sthayi varisai-s.
SAVAL-JAVAB - “We want to be the best duo” – Carnatica Brothers
The Carnatica Brothers K.N. SHASHIKIRAN and GANESH spoke to GAYATHRI SUNDARESAN on their collaboration as a duo, and with musician S. SOWMYA and also the launch and functioning of their organisation called Carnatica. Some excerpts. You have been performing as ‘Carnatica Brothers’ though you and Ganesh are not brothers. Shashikiran: Ganesh is my cousin, a grandson of Gottuvadyam Narayana Iyengar and my father Narasimhan’s sister’s son. She brought him to our house when he was six months old. He has grown up as a member of my family. When we started singing together, we thought of calling ourselves Carnatica Cousins, but ‘Colonial Cousins’ had just then become popular, so we made it Carnatica Brothers. We have now been performing together for a decade, since the start of the millennium.
A DANCER’S DIARY - At the Pocket Theatre in Italy by Praveen Kumar
When you receive an award, you normally get a cash prize, a shawl, a citation, a line to add to your resume, and pictures and write-ups in newspapers and magazines. Getting the Mohan Khokar award for overall excellence in dance was a unique experience for me – first, because it was my maiden award, and second, the award constituted a trip to Europe on a scholarship residency to perform and teach Bharatanatyam, and also to study the dance forms practised there. This was certainly exciting. Italy was the place assigned to me. “Wow!” I said, as I conjured up images of old European architecture on the one hand, and fresh mozzarella cheese, pasta, pizza and the famous “gelatos” on the other. Italy meant all this to me. I landed in Italy on 13th September and went to “Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo” (TTB) which means “Pocket Theatre”. It is an academy of performing arts in a beautiful small town called Bergamo. This theatre has specialised in both eastern and western traditions of performing arts. The artists are well known for presenting Italian street plays and incredibly, Kathakali, Odissi and Bharatanatyam! I was taken by surprise to find Indian classical dances in their repertoire.