World-renowned dancing couple, choreographers and gurus, Raja and Radha Reddy have given a new dimension to the age-old art of Kuchipudi. Raja was born on 6 October 1943, to Narsamma and Rajanna Reddy at Narsapur, and Radha on 15 February 1955, to Venkatlaxmi and Enugu Raja Reddy at Kotalgaon in Telangana. As Radha’s father was Raja’s maternal uncle, they were married as children, grew up in nearby villages, learnt Kuchipudi together and have devoted their life to the art form. Their illustrious career, spanning over five decades, is marked by several public and private performances in India and abroad. Having performed in more than 95 countries, the duo has showcased India’s rich culture and their virtuosic talent in the presence of royalty, presidents and dignitaries across the world. Honoured with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, the couple were the first husband-wife pair to be presented the awards individually and simultaneously for the same cause. Decorated with the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award, an honorary doctorate from the Hyderabad University, the Sahitya Kala Parishad, and Nritya Choodamani from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha of Chennai, the couple have bagged numerous lifetime achievement awards during their long and successful career.
The first impression one gets of T.A.S. Mani is of warmth and gentleness, traits that are also conveyed in his mridangam play. Known for brevity in his role as an accompanist, he is among the few percussionists who retain old-time musical sensibilities. Born T.A. Subrahmanyan in a family of musicians, it was natural for him to take to music. His grand-uncle was the legendary musician Palghat Anantharama Bhagavatar. His paternal uncle, Someshwara Bhagavatar and father Arunachala Bhagavatar were musicians. However, his was a large family of modest means. When he started his percussion lessons with Ayyamani Iyer in Bengaluru at the age of seven, the lessons were sporadic at best. Yet, it was sheer determination and discipline that allowed him to progress. As his sisters Jayam and Bhagyam were performing vocalists, he gained access to the concert stage at a very young age. T.B. Narasimhachar, then secretary of Malleswaram Sangeetha Sabha, was a well-wisher who encouraged him with many concert opportunities and suggested that he use the lucky name ‘Mani’ on stage.
An acclaimed Bharatanatyam exponent based in Delhi, Jayalakshmi Eshwar is a performer, choreographer, teacher and author with more than five decades of experience in the field of dance. A top-grade artist of Doordarshan, she is an empanelled artist of ICCR and recipient of a senior fellowship from the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi. Jayalakshmi has performed in solo, group and collaborative formats in India and abroad. She has also played the role of a Tanjore dancer in the national award-winning Kannada film Hamsa Geethe directed by G.V. Iyer. Deeply interested in art education, Jayalakshmi has developed the syllabi, teachers’ guide and a publication on art education for the National Centre for Educational Research & Technology (NCERT), Government of India. Under the aegis of CIET, NCERT, Govt. of India, she has also released 25 episodes in a DVD titled Language of Dance, for children. She has to her credit four instructional books which come with multimedia support materials and has also produced a unique educational card game based on all the classical dance forms.
Manoj Siva, disciple of mridangam maestro Palghat Raghu, hails from a family of musicians and music lovers. His father A.N. Siva was an ardent rasika of Carnatic music, and his mother Akhila Siva, a musician, has taught many students. The parents have been instrumental in shaping the careers of all their children—Vijay Siva, Manoj Siva and Poorna Vaidyanathan. With his family as his tower of strength, Manoj Siva has carved a niche for himself as an accompanist par excellence and his success can be attributed to his diligence and hard work. Manoj Siva is a disciplined musician trained under Kumbakonam Rajappa Iyer and Palghat Raghu. His style is replete with sunadam during accompaniment for kritis and his tani avartanams are marked with technical brilliance. A true follower of tradition and its values, Manoj Siva is a much sought after percussionist. He takes special care of the mridangam and his concert instruments have the perfect left-right balance coupled with precise meettu-chapu alignment.
6 Sruti Box
10 News & Notes
20 Raja Radha Reddy
34 Interview v Jayalakshmi Eshwar
40 Birthday calendar
42 Profile v T.A.S. Mani
48 Saval-Javab v Manoj Siva
54 Perspectives v Concert patterns in C and H music (part 2)
60 Tribute v Adieu Aeolus
62 From the Editor
Cover: The Reddy family
(photo by Avinash Pasricha)