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Homage To Semmangudi
Issue : 231
Published on : December, 2003

$.5.00

CONTENTS

3 Sruti Box

7 News & Notes

17 Special Feature

25 Main Feature

49 Obituary

57 New Production

61 The Book Shelf

69 Brief Notes

72 Editor's Note

Front Cover: Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer
(Samudri Archives)

Special Feature
M.V. Narasimhachari & Vasanthalakshmi

Maranganti Venkata Narasimhachari and his wife Vasanthalakshmi were honoured with the Swarna Jayanti Nritya Choodamani award this December by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai. The Nritya Choodamani title is a prestigious one in the field of classical dance and should probably have been conferred much earlier on this well-known Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancing duo, considering  many senior dancers and  some younger 'star' dancers have already received it. However, it is appropriate that the popular pair receives the special Swarna Jayanti award this year on the of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha's golden jubilee. It also comes as a fitting recognition to M.V. Narasimhachari who turned 60 in August 2003. He was recently honoured for "outstanding contribution to Indian dance" by the Arathi School of Indian Dance at the National Asian Indian Dance Convention held in Texas. The Tamil Nadu State Government also chose to confer the Kalaimamani title on M.V. Narasimhachari and Vasanthalakshmi this year.


Narasimhachari is a respected name in the field of classical dance. He is the President of the Association Of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India (ABHAI) and is a Committee member of the Tamilnadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram.

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Main Feature
Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

The year was 1940, and I was a student in Madanapalle. My brother and I used to frequent the Municipal Office to listen to concerts broadcast by AIR-Madras. On one occasion we went to listen to Chembai, but just as the programme started one of our professors landed there and asked the Municipal Clerk to change over to Tiruchi station where Semmangudi's concert was on the air.


We could not very well overrule our professor—and that was my initiation to the music of Semmangudi. Subsequently we got to listen to many of his radio concerts, besides a few discs: and he became one of our favourites, ranked along with Chittoor Subramania Pillai, B.S. Raja Iyengar, Veena Dhanammal and of course Chembai.


Decades later while in Railway service I went to Baroda (Vadodara now) Staff College in 1971 to attend a reorientation course. I met Kasi Iyer, one of our lecturers, and his wife, who happened to be Semmangudi's daughter. Since we were to go to the ICF centre in Chennai after completion of the Baroda programme, she gave me a message and a few articles to be delivered to her father.

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New Production
Indra Dhanus

Whenever time permits, we (Shanta and I) make it a point to attend any musical concerts or classical oriented dance programmes, whether traditional or experimental. Having seen the newspaper advertisement of an experimental musical feature called Indra Dhanus (Rainbow) we landed up in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 23rd October. Having no invitation we were of course prepared to buy tickets. Surprisingly entry was free and naturally the hall was full. Not sure of what was in store for us that evening we sat quietly in the back row. Noticing our presence there some one compulsorily guided us to the front row. Yet we preferred to be a little behind, in case we needed to leave early. Amazingly we were stuck to the seat engrossed for three hours, that was the greatness of that presentation by the young mridanga vidwan D.A. Srinivas, a prime disciple of Madurai T. Srinivasan, popularly known as Cheenakkutty.

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News & Notes
Ananya Festival

The dance arena in India sadly lacks impresarios with a radical vision for conceiving and designing platforms for dance presentation. Which is why it is refreshing to come across someone like Sanjeev Bhargava of Seher, whose artistic imagination has created memorable festivals at heritage sites in Delhi. One such event, Ananya— 'the unparalleled', from 6th to 12th October, held in the environs of the historic Purana Qila, a 16th century monument built by Humayun and completed by Sher Shah Suri, was mounted for the second consecutive year, by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Delhi Tourism in conjunction with Seher. Standing on the ruins of what is believed to be the old Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas, the softly lit ruins of the fort with its ramparts, arches and minarets, make an idyllic and romantic backdrop for dance presentation—the large stage constructed in front away from the monument providing much needed performance space for group presentations—with the echoes of history and the throb of the present seeming to interact and vibe.

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