function celebrating a dignified guru
August 7, 2008
Gurus Kalanidhi Narayanan, Adyar Lakshman and Usha Raghavan, V A K Ranga Rao, Kannan, Krishnaswamy of Narada Gana Sabha, artist Maniam Selvam, Guru Muthuswami Pillai's son Selvam, Dr. Nageswaran, Saroja's principal disciple Vidya from Paris, Uday, Stephenie and Sylvia (European students), dancers and members of the media attended the event.
A rare film
spanning 70 years of Saroja's dance with her mentor Ram Gopal, an excerpt
from the film 'Aum Shiva' was shown too.
He used to stand and execute adavus while teaching. His postures were perfect. He was a god loving man whose repertoire of Tamil folk dances was vast. Saroja admired him and she was one of his favorite pupils. Even now when I mention his name and talk about him, her face lights up. The book is written in simple style and holds the interest of the reader. The photos show how Saroja developed as a dancer and carried her dance to different parts of the world. Her friendship with giants in the field like Ramgopal and Mrinalini Sarabhai broadened her vision.
Saroja carried on with her dance career, at the same time caring lovingly for her husband Mohan Khokar and her four sons. Elizabeth Khokar has ably assisted her husband in editing this book on her mother-in-law, whom she loves.
When he was the Secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Mohan Khokar had a photo of Saroja in his office, but her back is to the camera, and all one can see is the back of her costume and hair decoration. I asked Mohan why that was so, and he said, "I want people to know I'm not using my position to boost her career." But he admired her, and married her at the Thiruvanmiyur temple in Chennai with the assistance of my school teacher P S Krishnaswami.
When I last visited him with Peria Sarada before he passed on, Mohan was very emotional. He put his head on Sarada's lap and wept and I had to console him. As we were leaving the house, he called me and thanked me for bringing Sarada to see him. Then he pointed his hands towards the room in which all his lifelong collection on Indian dances was stored and said, "Look, all this will go to waste." I sat next to him and said, "Mohan, get rid of this silly idea which is bothering you. I'm certain that Ashish will use all this collection to bring out several books."
was a beautiful smile.
G Sundari is a good friend of Mohan Khokar and his family. She retired as Assistant Secretary for Performances, Kalakshetra, Chennai.