A little girl stands before a Ravi Varma painting of Krishna and the gopis and sashays around in abandon to the tunes of P. Susheela’s Gangai karai thottam much to the amusement of her mother, her first rasika. At the age of three, the same little girl struggles to walk two steps after a bout of measles and encephalitis leaving her lower limbs almost lifeless. This is when the door to Bharatanatyam opens for the child as a part of her rehabilitation and recovery. Two years later, the sound of adavus resound as she dances merrily with renewed energy and health. The dancing feet are busy from now on, as she and her younger sister soon become famous as the ‘asthana dancers’ in their school and college. The ‘happily ever after’ ending would in itself be a story of success but this dancer had more challenges coming her way. The early, sudden loss of her husband saw her taking over the business to clear outstanding orders. With two children to care for, dance was relegated to the background.
Bharata Kalanjali, a premium Bharatanatyam institution in Chennai, founded by Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan, celebrated its golden jubilee on 2 October 2018 at the Mutha Venkatasubba Rao auditorium in Chennai. The day-long event titled Swarna Samarohanam was a grand celebration attended by more than 1500 people. The day began with an impressive Keli Kottu guest performance by Padma Shri awardee Mattanur Sankaran Marar’s ensemble and an invocation by students of Bharata Kalanjali. This was followed by Natya Upharana comprising performances of Bharata Kalanjali alumni from across the globe as an offering to their gurus; there were nearly 40 performances by more than 100 students, which continued well into the afternoon.
He can be described as the youngest of three contemporary child prodigies in Carnatic music who attained significant heights, namely, Chitravina N. Ravikiran (born 1967), Mandolin U. Shrinivas (1969-2016), and Sankaran Namboothiri. M.K. (Mathom Illam Krishnan Namboothiri) Sankaran Namboothiri, was born on 23 April 1971 to Kathakali artist and singer Krishnan Namboothiri and Adithi Devi Antharjanom in Perumbavoor of Ernakulam district in Kerala. The Namboothiri household, resonating with Kathakali sangeetam, had an influence on Sankaran (also called Kailasam) even as a toddler. When Sankaran was in the first standard, he participated in a light music competition in school in which he sang the Malayalam film hit Mangalam nerunnu jnan which won him the first prize. His father encouraged him to take part in local music competitions and the boy won the first prize every time. Realising his potential, his father started teaching him the basics of Carnatic music. Formal lessons in Carnatic music started when Sankaran was in the fourth standard; his teacher, Narayanan Namboothiri, a neighbouring musician.
IRAWATI KARNIK Irawati Karnik is an award-winning multilingual writer, translator, director and actor based in Mumbai. She writes in Marathi, Hindi and English. Born on 25 August 1981, Irawati graduated from the J.J. School of Fine Arts, Mumbai. Her first brush with professional theatre occurred when accomplished Marathi theatre director and playwright, Chetan Datar asked her to be a part of the Aawishkar theatre group. Since then, there has been no looking back for Irawati. She acted and assisted in plays directed by Chetan Datar, Satyadev Dubey, Sunil Shanbag and Adwait Dadarkar. She has also directed plays like Naaygaonchya Naakyavarun, Goshta, Dharmaputra, and Eka Natacha Mrityu. She has participated in and resourced many theatre workshops. She was one of the four Marathi playwrights invited to be a part of the Writer’s Bloc workshops, co-organised by the Royal Court Theatre, UK. She received the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awarded by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2009, Vinod Doshi Fellowship from the Sanskriti Pratishthan, and Kathakar Shantaram Puraskar from the Vidarbha Sahitya Sangh. Among her drama scripts are Sex, Morality and Censorship (Hindi) directed by Sunil Shanbag; The A Casting (English, later translated into German) directed by Sophia Stepf, which premiered in Berlin in November 2011, and two scripts that won the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Award for Best Original Script: Gasha (Hindi) directed by Abhishek Majumdar and C Sharp C Blunt (English) directed by Sophia Stepf (Flinttheater, Berlin) and Thook (Hindi).
6 Sruti Box
8 News & Notes
16 Birthday calendar
18 Roja Kannan
28 Golden jubilee of Bharata Kalanjali
40 Centenary tribute v Ramnad Krishnan
42 Musicians of Kerala v Sankaran Namboothiri
48 First person v Lessons in music writing
51 Theatre is magic v Irawati Karnik
56 Opinion v Does music have a religion?
62 Publisher’s note
Front Cover: Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan