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Individual Issues

Kelucharan Mohapatra
Issue : 237
Published on : June, 2004



3 Sruti Box

7 News & Notes

13 Obituary

14 A Series For Youngsters

19 Special Feature

43 Music Appreciation Notes

49 The Record Rack

52 Editor's Note

Front Cover: Kelucharan Mohapatra
(Samudri Archives)

Special Feature
Kelucharan Mohapatra

Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra is no more. To think of Odissi without the one who has been its guiding light for the last half a century and more, is like thinking of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. The life of the boy from Raghurajpur village in Puri district, born to a humble Patachitra painter Chintamani Mohapatra and his wife Siri Nani, growing up to straddle the world of Odissi like a colossus, reads like a fairy story. Not born to any traditional dance family, Kelucharan did not aspire to gurudom. The mantle fell on him as an earned right with his immeasurable contribution to Odissi.

The turning point in Odissi history came in 1945 when Pankaj Charan Das engaged as the dance teacher by Annapurna B Theatre Group, came into contact with the young Kelucharan Mohapatra, hired as a percussionist by the same theatre group on a monthly salary of fifteen rupees. In an attempt to lure larger audiences, a dance sequence, Mohini Bhasmasura, was choreographed by Guru Pankaj Charan for the play Benami, with the guru himself in the role of the demon, young Laxmipriya the actress who was later on to become the wife of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra as Mohini and Kelucharan as Siva. This landmark event was to burgeon into an entire movement ushering in a whole new superstructure of Odissi erected on the very scanty remains of what had survived history, involving all the main players in the field like Pankaj Charan Das, Debaprasad Das, Raghunath Dutta, Mayadhar Raut, Kelucharan Mohapatra and Dhiren Patnaik.

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A Series For Youngsters
The Discovery Of Tiruppugazh

Sargam rolled on to her side. She was just recovering from a bad attack of flu and was longing for some entertainment. Suddenly, a bright look flitted across her face. Thunder, her dog, became alert for Sargam's excitement always augured danger for him. He was not wrong. Sargam got down from the bed. "Hey Thunder, get ready to take an IQ test. And if you pass " Sargam did not complete her sentence. She took out a stale biscuit from some corner of the room, showed it to her canine companion and proceeded to hide it, saying, "Thunder, can you find the stuff? It is finder's keepers..." Just then, the door opened to Thunder's rescue. Sargam's attention got diverted. Amma walked in and behind her was Divya, Sargam's friend.

"Di...v...ya " Sargam screamed excitedly, startling Thunder who grumbled, "Oh, these 'educated' humans, don't they realise that my auditory nerves are super sensitive...?" Thunder's thoughts were broken by Amma's voice: "Sargam, Divya has come to spend some time with you. Isn't that sweet of her?"

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News & Notes
Chennai - Felicitations to T.N. Seshagopalan

The disciples of senior vocalist Carnatic T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS) paid rich tribute to their guru on his entering the fiftieth year of his musical career and felicitated him for receiving the Padma Bhushan award this year. The function was held at Narada Gana Sabha's Sathguru Gnanananda Hall on the 5th April in Chennai. That a lot of care and attention to detail had gone into the arrangements was obvious from the smooth conduct of the evening's proceedings, right from the stage decor, prayer song (Jagadguro dayanidhe Sree Sankara Sivaakrite in Athana, a composition of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar—the guru of Seshagopalan's guru Sankarasivam), pleasant and competent compering by Soundararajan, the short audio visual clipping, to the specific topics that were given to the speakers in advance.

An audiovisual presentation titled 'A Legend - Timeless in Time' traced the development of the young Gopu into a musician of enviable stature. It was his mother who kindled in him a passion for music from his childhood and taught him the rudiments of music. He used to participate in nama sankeertanam-s, and used to play the harmonium even
at that young age. At that stage even without knowing the grammar of swara-s, he simply reproduced the sounds that he heard. He later came under the expert tutelage of Ramanathapuram Sankarasivam. The master guru recognised the rare talent and gave it the right polish to make it sparkle.

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Komal Kothari

Komal Kothari, the eminent ethno-musicologist and folklorist, died in Jodhpur, Rajasthan on 20th April, 2004 at the age of 75.

Komalda, as he was affectionately known, was of a unique mould in the sphere of his work, nay passion and life-long commitment. He combined scholarship with concerted action, based on pragmatic and 'eco-friendly' strategy. Though the folk singers of Rajasthan constituted the main thrust for his activities, the sweep was much broader, as his approach was integrated. In addition to folk music and musical instruments, his extensive work covered puppetry, textiles and ornaments, theatre forms, epics and deities.

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