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Vedantam Ramachandra Vara Prasad
- Vijay Shanker

August 20, 2021

Vedantam Ramachandra Vara Prasad
Veteran Kuchipudi exponent, mentor and choreographer, Vedantam Ramachandra Vara Prasad, left for his heavenly abode on 6th August 2021 in Hyderabad. A resident of Chennai, he was shifted to Hyderabad due to medical issues by his nephew and was in ICU for about a week and expired due to multi-organ failure. He was a bachelor and is survived by his two brothers in Canada and USA. He was 64. His immense contribution towards the enrichment and propagation of Kuchipudi spans more than three decades.

Vedantam Ramachandra Vara Prasad, popularly known as Ramu Sir, was the son of Vedantam Raghavaiah and Ramalakshmi and was born in Kuchipudi village, Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh, on June 1, 1957. Vedantam Raghavaiah was a well-known cine director and some of his notable films include 'Devdas' and 'Anarkali'. After his initial training in Kuchipudi at Siddhendra Kalakshetra, Ramu acquired a diploma in Yakshagana and Kuchipudi from Kuchipudi Centre in Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University and Natya Visharad from Kuchipudi Art Academy, under the expert tutelage of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. Since 1974, Vedantam Ramu joined Kuchipudi Art Academy as a teacher and trained several students. Some of the most popular names include actress Hema Malini, Manju Bhargavi, Prathibha Prahlad, Ratna Kumar, Kishore Mosalikanti, Vanashree and Jaya Rama Rao etc. As a choreographer, he assisted Guruji and some of the most notable dance-dramas include Sreenivasa Kalyanam, Usha Parinayam, Krishna Parijatham, Rama Natakam, Vipra Narayana Charitram, Ksheera Sagara Madanam, Chandalika, Hara Vilsam, Rukmini Kalyanam etc. Besides conducting nattuvangam along with Guruji, Ramu was also known for his performances in roles like Lord Shiva, Veerabhadra and other leading characters of the Hindu mythology. Dance dramas of Kuchipudi Art Academy have been presented in several countries and acclaimed widely for the stylized presentation and dramatic quality.

Vedantam Ramu was also one of the most revered mentors and was associated with several  organizations in varied capacities. He was honoured as judge by the department of culture and tourism, Government of India, member of the text book committee for Kuchipudi, Karnataka State and examiner at Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University etc.

Bala Tripurasundari, daughter of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam says, "Ramu Sir was one of the firm pillars of Kuchipudi Art Academy, besides teaching and conducting performances. He also assisted my father in nattuvangam and choreography. I was shocked to know of his demise; in fact, I was not aware that he was seriously ill for quite some time. I wish I could have met him before his last days. We will miss him."

Srimayi Vempati, wife of Vempati Venkat says, "I am in a disturbed state as I lost my husband recently and now the passing away of Ramu Sir is more disturbing. Ramu Sir was like Hanuman and a strong support to Vempati garu. He would never compromise on the quality of the performance and was a taskmaster and a fine person too. He can never be replaced."

Deepa Narayanan Sashindran, Kuchipudi exponent and life trustee of Kuchipudi Parampara Foundation Trust, Bangalore reminisces, "I have known Vedantam Ramu since I was only 12 years old, learning Kuchipudi from my teacher Manju Bhargavi. He has conducted natttuvangam for several programs and for my arangetram too. He was not only a wonderful teacher, but a lovely person too."

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

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