Guru Veena Murthy Vijay’s birthday celebrations
- Veejay Sai, Bangalore

October 20, 2011

The ultimate assessment of being a good guru is when your students take great pride in flaunting you off as their highest achievement. After all, a guru plays the biggest role in the life of every performing artist immediately after one’s parents, or sometimes even more than them. Mid-October in Bangalore ushered in the birthday celebrations of Kuchipudi guru Veena Murthy Vijay with pomp and high fanfare. Her students gathered and organized a memorable evening of wonderful dance performances, calling it ‘Nrithyopasana’ in a packed Seva Sadan hall under the banner of their institute Sri Rajarajeshwari Kala Niketan.

Praveen Kumar
Sangeetha Phaneesh

After a brief invocation prayer, a touching AV filled with some beautiful pictures from yesteryears tracking Veena Murthy’s journey as a dancer, compiled by her students filled the hall with a thunderous applause. The images revealed once again, what a fine dancer and a committed guru Veena is. A crisp performance by Bangalore’s favorite male Bharatanatyam dancer Praveen Kumar opened the series of dances lined up for the evening. With clear lines and perfect abhinaya, Praveen danced his favorite role of Lord Krishna in a varnam knit from verses from Shri Krishna Shatanamavali stotram. Praveen’s solo dance was a real delight to watch after a long time in Bangalore. He kept the hall eagerly waiting for more. Following that was an Odissi performance by Madhulita Mohapatra. She danced to a piece on the glory of monsoons choreographed by her guru Aruna Mohanty.  With the visible hurry that she seemed to be in, one wondered if Madhulita was describing rains or a broken overhead water tank that was overflowing into the house.

With lively eyes and expressions, Sangeetha Phaneesh danced to ‘Saami raara,’ and one could sense the bundle of energy she came with to offer her best to her guru Veena who sat watching her performance with great pride. The last piece for the evening was a jugalbandi by Manasa Joshi, a student of Guru Maya Rao, performing Kathak and Nivedita Nadig doing Bharatanatyam, both dancing to a remixed version of the famous ‘English Note.’ While Manasa kept the show going with her graceful Kathak, Nivedita was disappointing. Her jatis went jogging and abhinaya lacked style.

Manasa Joshi & Nivedita Nadig
Dr. Sunil Kothari & Veena Murthy Vijay

By the end of the evening, all of Veena’s friends had gathered. Senior dance critic Dr. Sunil Kothari chased his way through Bengaluru’s dreaded traffic to drop in and surprise everyone, making it on time for the cake-cutting ceremony. Expressing his fondness for Veena’s dance in his short speech, he adorned her with a silk shawl making the evening special. Senior dance gurus like Usha Datar and Gamaka vidwan Rama Rao made their presence. The ‘Nrithyopasana’ organized by Veena’s students turned out to be one of its kinds with all her well-wishers and Bengaluru’s dance community flocked to wish Veena. Veena is not only a good dancer but also a great guru and a superb organizer with her students inheriting her organizing skills too. Here is to wishing her many more years of success, creativity and good health ahead!

Veejay Sai is a writer, editor and a culture critic.