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Pasumarthy Keshava Prasad: Tribute to a traditional master-performer 
- Vijay Shanker

May 30, 2021

Veteran Kuchipudi exponent, performer ,mentor, promoter and organiser Pasumarthy Keshava Prasad left for his heavenly abode on 7th May 2021 at his hometown in Kuchipudi village, Andhra Pradesh. He leaves behind his family, sons and a daughter. He was 69.

Born on 1st August1952, Keshava belonged to a traditional family of dancers and musicians, following the Bhagavata Mela tradition. His grandfather Vedantam Ramakrishna Sastry was particularly acclaimed for his role of Raja Harishchandra and his father Subramanya Sastry specialised in the portrayal of feminine characters. The legacy moves forward with his children; one of them plays the mridangam too.

Keshava received guidance in Kuchipudi from acclaimed gurus like Vedantam Parvateesam, PVG Krishna Sarma and Vempati Chinna Satyam. After his graduation in Sanskrit, Keshava became a dance assistant at the famous Sri Siddhendra Kalakshetra from 1978 to 1983 and later on became an independent mentor and master performer with more than 1800 performances to his credit. Some of his choreography includes Parvati Kalyanam, Bhama Kalapam, Parijatapaharanam and Srinivasa Kalyanam. Keshava was the secretary of Akhila Bharatha Kuchipudi Natya Kalamandali and the trustee of the Ramalingeshwara Swami Temple. Keshava was completely devoted and used to regularly organise festivals.

Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi exponent from Bangalore, Veena Murthy Vijay says, “Keshava garu was a scholar who had wonderful knowledge of the sastras. He would interpret varied compositions and the sahityam too, without any hesitation. His contribution is credited not only for the Bhagavata Mela natakam but also for Yakshagana tradition. He was an able organiser too. It is sad he left all of us due to certain health problems.”

Kuchipudi exponent and guru Vedantam Radheshyam says, “He was a perfect organiser, taking care of all aspects of the organisation and its execution. He was a devoted artiste, a fine singer and always encouraged young talent and other artistes. We will miss him. I hope his sons will continue with the devotion and same amount of passion.”

Vijay Shanker
Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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