Boston to Basavangudi: Guru Purnima Gururaj and  
Bangalore's Wonder Boy - Anil V Iyer 
- Ashish Mohan Khokar, Bangalore 

October 10, 2009 

He is only 19 and yet has performed with many groups like Vyjayanti Kashi's and Satyanarayana Raju on many important occasions. He has also won the ISKCON Youth Dancer Competition with first rank. He changed colleges just so he could pursue cultural activities more! Meet Anil V Iyer whose Rangarpane took place under Guru Purnima Gururaj's baton last week. 

From the stage setting done aesthetically by Bangalore's gift to the male dancing world, Satyanarayana Raju, to conducting and compering, the entire evening had class and content. From a punctual start to a timely finish; from the invite to the minimal speeches by important dance personages, the event showcased Bangalore's best.  

Vidwan  DS Srivatsa singing; electric-charged Srihari Rangaswamy on mridangam; Venugopal playing flute like Krishna and able nattuvangam by Guru Purnima Gururaj who also conducted and compered the entire evening with grace and meaningful explanations, made Anil V Iyer's performance a new benchmark in artistic presentation. 

It is no surprise that from a good heart comes good art! Guru Narmada, who passed away last year, has left scores of serious and sincere students. Among them Purnima Gururaj, the Bostonian, now resettled in Basavangudi, ranks as seriously sincere and artistically sound. Her disciple, Anil V Iyer lived up to her and more importantly, the audiences' expectations and critics' delight. Rarely one comes away with tripti of rasanubhava that Natyashastra so speaks about and on this occasion it happened. 

Starting with gajje puja at hands of all seniors and gurus present, including senior most Bharatanatyam doyenne Guru MK Saroja, Guru MR Krishnamurthy of Kalakshetra and other dignitaries, the first rendition of Allaripu preceded naturally by a Pushpanjali, showcased Iyer's unbridled horse-like dancing quality, galloping away to glory. Often the tala needed controlling but youthful hormones played havoc occasionally, making him perform with alacrity, though maintaining perfection. 

In abhinaya items, the boy has a natural histrionic flair partly because of his background in active theatre...his eyes are somewhat blank because of lack of real-life experiences but his face emotes quite swiftly and without lokadharmi aspects dominating. His dance is just right; manly enough not to look namby-pamby and soft enough to look graceful. In male dancers, it is a difficult balance and Anil Iyer is very good at maintaining a fine balance. 

Composers as varied as Papanasam Sivan and contemporary ones like Vijayalakshmi Vijaykumar were part of his repertoire and Guru Purnima Gururaj (whose name includes the word guru!) has taught padams and varnams that sit well on a young male dancer. The tillana regaled with its exquisite poses. It was an intelligent choreography with sudden silent cadences both in music and in dance. It created an element of surprise and pleasure in witnessing this tillana. 

Anil has stage presence that is soothing yet firmly lion-like. He covers the stage well for a soloist and did full justice to a good guru like Gururaj's art of teaching. If he continues like this, one day, Anil will rank amongst the top Bharatanatyam dancers of the country. Purnima Gururaj should be proud of such a shishya and Anil lucky to have such a guru. 

Reputed critic-historian-editor of attendance, Ashish Mohan Khokar needs little introduction. He occasionally notes dancers and events of exceptional merit that take place in Bangalore.