Guru Radha and Shobana receive titles in Krishna Gana Sabha

Pondy Bazaar looks like Jaffna’s suburbs. Like a bombed neighbourhood.
With the neon lights and banners of the jewellery and clothes stores, the scene is stark.
And with the intermittent rains, it gets starker.
Civic works to construct a flyover in this maddening shopping area is now on.

A scene which greeted all the people who headed to Sri Krishna Gana Sabha for its opening evening-December 5.

The hall was one-fourth full. Never seen such a scene at KGS’ opening evening. Was it because of the wet weather? Or because there were other events at other sabhas featuring well known dancers?

The dance community turn up in finery and fiesty spirit for the opening evening here. It is in many ways a dancers’ celebration with two awards for a dancer and a guru. But this evening was rather pale. And the paleness rubbed in with the delay in the arrival of the chief guest of the evening, Swami Dayananda Saraswathi.

It wasn’t an upbeat event.

ne man who has always taken his seat in the front row at all the inaugurals at KGS is the violin maestro Lalgudi Jayaram. He was there. As was Kamala (‘Baby’ Kamala) to cheer for her sister Rhadha, the guru to be honoured with the ‘Aacharya Choodamani’ title.
The other awardee, Shobana ( given the ‘Nritya Choodamani’ title) , was fidgety and somewhat tense. Butterflies on an evening to remember?

The swamiji hit the philosophical phrases often in his speech but wandered. Opening evenings need to be rousing affairs. This wasn’t.

Writer and arts consultant Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, a guest on stage, mined guru Rhadha’s career and her character. “She is at her class from 9 am to 9pm with a break for lunch,” said Sujatha. “And she gives so much time to freshers because she wants them to have a good foundation.”

Shobana is used to responding to titles at such functions. She has done them more often at the National awards for cinema.

She recalled her first recital 20 years ago at the sabha, at a time when people turned a nose at film stars who also performed classical dance. And she had warm words for her students and well-wishers who had helped her realise a project – have her own dance studio in the city.

The Shobana sishyas and fan club was in full strength this evening. And when it was all over on stage, they had gifts and flowers for their guru.

Rhada had all the well known dance gurus around her – Padma Subrahmanyam, Prof. C. V. Chandrasekar, Sarada Hoffman, Prof. Jayalakshmi.

Dancer Bharathi Shivaji, the convenor of this year’s Natya Kala Conference, presented the programme themed ‘Sangeetham in Dance’, a subject she said she chose when she began to explore it in the dance forms of Kerala.

The hall emptied after the function. Three dozen rasikas sat back to watch Poornima Ashok Kumar, sishya of Anandha Shankar Jayant, perform on stage.

P. S. : The khicchidi at the canteen here is great. The supervisor promises more goodies once the fest warms up.


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