Swarajyalakshmi and Vempati Chinna Satyam
Kalakar Utsav 2014
- Nagalakshmi Bhagavatula
e-mail: nagalakshmi29@gmail.com.

May 5, 2014

Kalakar Utsav, organized by Sri Gurukrupa Sangeetha Nruthya Kalanikethan, Anantapur, with the support of Panchamavedam Foundation, Bangalore, was a dance festival primarily celebrating the gift of being an artist and value the opportunity provided in the right perspective, upholding the purity of the art form. The first edition of the festival was held on April 14, 2014 at Seva Sadan, Bangalore.

The underlying theme of the festival is to foster mutual respect and unity among the contemporary artistes. The festival provides an occasion for all artistes to celebrate with reverence the guidance, blessings of the gurus that have made them what they are today while imbibing the desired ethical and aesthetic qualities of an artiste. This festival also marked a very humble beginning to acknowledge the contribution of behind the scenes support to an artist. The first edition of Kalakar Festival honoured Swarajyalakshmi with “Sahadharmachaarini” award for her gracious support to her husband, the doyen of Kuchipudi, Vempati Chinna Satyam. The award recognized the care and unconditional love and affection showered by Swarajyalakshmi on hundreds of students and artists for decades. Due to unavoidable circumstances she could not make it to the function but gracefully accepted the award through video conferencing.  

The evening witnessed colorful, graceful and soulful Kuchipudi dance performances by the disciples of Guru Patnam Siva Prasad from Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.  The performances began with Pooja Nrutya, performances by Manogna and Tavishi. Next on stage was Tavishi who performed the traditional Mandodari Sabdam set to Mohana ragam, adi talam. This was followed by Narayana Teerthula Taranagam, Jaya Jaya Durge, set to Shanmukhapriya ragam, adi talam performed by Tejaswini. It was Supraja’s turn to perform Vachenu Alamelu Manga, a composition of Annamacharya set to Hindola raagam, adi talam.

Much to the pleasant surprise of the local audience, graceful choreography to a melodious composition of Purandaradasu Keertana, Mella mellane bande set to Mohana ragam, adi talam was performed by Sindhu.  The final solo performance was by Manogna who performed Prahlada Sabdam set to Kambhoji ragam, misra chapu talam. The performances by the young artists earned rich appreciation and applause from the audience and various dance gurus who graced the festival.

Right from the dance entrance, nritya part, abhinaya and excellent coordination the students showcased their dedication to the art form, their obedience to the guru and single minded approach in putting efforts to excel. One felt that it is indeed a blessing to follow the path charted out by one single guru with all earnestness even in the present institutionalized mode of teaching that yields rich dividends almost on the lines of the Gurukul system of yesteryears. That a small town like Anantapur is churning out such quality artists speaks volumes of the efficacyof following one’s guru from a very young age bereft of distractions with a steadfast approach.

Narada with Krishna in Sri Krishna Parijatham


The much awaited scintillating dance drama ‘Srikrishna Parijatam,’ a story from Harivamsam was the major attraction of the evening. The production depicts how bhakti is the essence of approaching the heart of a divine personality, Lord Krishna.


Krishna with Rukmini

Narada (portrayed by Naga Kavya) seizes the opportunity to trigger a quarrel between Satyabhama (essayed by Nagalakshmi Bhagavatula) and Rukmini (portrayed by K Kavya). Krishna (gracefully depicted by Harsha Priyanka) had earlier offered the divine flower Parijatha to Rukmini and takes futile steps trying to pacify the anger of Satyabhama, who feels terribly let down by the act of Krishna.  Satyabhama relents only after Krishna promises her to get the Parijatha Vruksha (the tree) planted in her garden. But with Rukmini offering her prayers to Krishna with the very flowers ignites Satyabhama further and it comes to a situation wherein Krishna is torn between Rukmini’s devotion and Satyabhama’s obsessive insistence that Krishna is all hers. It is left to Narada to make Satyabhama comprehend that the way to Krishna’s heart is through bhakti and leading her to apologize to Krishna for her display of arrogance.

The crisp, fast yet lucid style of presentation kept everyone on the edge of their seats, even those who were not seeing the dance drama for the first time. The artists brought out the essence of the story in a graceful and expressive way. The effect of the live orchestra who did all that was required to get the best out of the performing artists of the evening was a welcome relief when compared to the more prevalent practice of resorting to recorded music for dance performances. Overall, the Kalakar Utsav was warmly received by enthusiastic art connoisseurs of Bangalore. 

Nagalakshmi Bhagavatula is a trained dancer and also legal advisor in a leading software company.