• Published By: Sruti

Sudharani was born on 21 March 1944, in Pollachi, near Coimbatore, as the only daughter of H.L. Jagannath, and his wife Shakuntala. It would be a hyperbole to say that she was born with bells around her ankles, but she was still a child when she revealed a talent for miming. Other girls might have had a similar talent but families belonging to the community of Madhwa brahmins were not known then to encourage it. Bharatanatyam, or for that matter any kind of dance, had not yet gained acceptance among them, even though they welcomed their girls and women to learn music and home crafts. Sudha's family turned out to be an exception. Her mother and a cousin of her mother's named Saraswati thought her instinctive miming was cute and encouraged her to display her talent, initially at home, by providing the music to inspire her. They would either sing themselves or play 'plates', as the 78 rpm gramophone discs were colloquially known then. They would dress her up too, using short sarees for the purpose.