Individual Issues

Sikkil Gurucharan, Kapila Vatsyayan and Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair

  • Issue 448
  • Published By Sruti
  • ₹120.00

CONTENTS       Vol. 29  Issue 1  January 2022

6      News & notes

12    Snapshorts

14    Birthday calendar

16    Sikkil C. Gurucharan

28   Kapila Vatsyayan

34   Centenary tribute v Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair

40   Heritage sthalams v Chitra sabha in Tirukuttralam

42    Tribute v Sivasakthi Sivanesan

44    New initiative v Manam—an inspiration

47    Tukkadas v Interesting tidbits on Carnatic ragas

49   Bookshelf

50   From the Editor

Front Cover: Sikkil Gurucharan (photo by Hemamalini S.)
      Kapila Vatsyayan

          Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair



No. 448


Sikkil C. Gurucharan - EXCELLENT VOCALIST IN A FAMILY OF FLAUTISTS                             LAKSHMI ANAND

How Sikkil C. Gurucharan became a vocalist is itself curious—even to him! Born in Chennai on 21 June 1982 to V. Chandrasekaran and Mythili (daughter of Sikkil Kunjumani, the elder of the Sikkil Sisters flautist-duo), he recollects his grandmothers testing the blowing ability of prospective flute students by asking them to blow into a pen cap. Gurucharan’s musical aptitude was discovered as a child when he whistled a film song correctly whilst walking down the stairs at his home. He then sang the same song, perfectly in sruti, which made his grandmothers decide that the boy should be trained in vocal music. Now, some 35 years later, he remains the sole vocalist in his family, almost everyone else having learned the flute. “My mother had an arangetram in vocal,” clarifies Gurucharan. She, however, switched to the family instrument soon after and was on the flute faculty of the Tamil Nadu Government Music College for a few years. Gurucharan adds that his elder sister Lavanya, who too learned the flute, is most astute musically but elected to pursue academics.




Kapila Vatsyayan was a grand matriarch of Indian culture, an administrator, institution builder, a leading scholar of Indian classical dance, art, architecture, and art history. She was a pioneer in cultural research in India. She brought a holistic, multicultural approach to understanding Indian culture, combining theoretical knowledge with practice, which generated interest in research work. She played a major role in positioning the dance forms, art and culture of India  on the cultural world map.

Kapila was born in an illustrious family to Satyawati and Ram Lal Malik on 25 December 1928 in Delhi. She studied at Shantiniketan, learnt Kathak from Achhan Maharaj, Manipuri from Amobi Singh, and Bharatanatyam from Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai. She got the opportunity to perform Kathak at the first Dance Festival organised at Feroze Shah Kotla Grounds in 1945.


Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair (1921-1988)


Born on 1 October 1921, Mavelikkara Krishnankutty Nair was born to Parukutty Amma and Mavelikkara Narayana Pillai, a theatre artist. As a child, he spent most of his time in a Krishna temple in the neighbourhood and exhibited a taste for percussion. Nair participated in the nama sankeertana programmes in the temple and even received a gift at the tender age of five for playing khanjira in a programme. Krishnankutty had two sisters—Bhagavathy and Kaveri. The family had close interaction with the Mavelikkara palace as Nair’s maternal grandfather was employed there. As a child, Nair was attracted by the sound of the mridangam emanating from the classes for the boys at the palace, and he watched it from a distance for long hours. The mridangam master Alappuzha Venkappan Pillai, who observed the keen interest of the young lad, included him along with the palace children and thus started the regular lessons for Nair, which laid the foundation for a highly successful career in mridangam spanning six decades. Subsequently, Nair had advanced tutelage under Vechoor Krishna Iyer.



Veil of Colours

The fifth of the pancha sabhas is Tirukuttralam. The hall here is the Chitra sabha, also known as Oviya sabhai or Vannambalam.

The Ananda tandava Nataraja in the Chitra sabha is in the form of a mural. Allegorically, mind is the chitra sabha; the Lord should be made to remain here in a colourful and resplendent form. As the flower in a mural will always be in full bloom with no wear or tear, the jeeva should house the pristine beauty of Godliness forever. 

The special dance of the Chitra sabha of Kuttralam is the ‘Tripura tandava’ or the ‘dance of veiling’.

The term ‘tripura’ calls for further study. Lord Siva is hailed as Tripurari, Tripurasundarar, Tripura samhari, Tripurantaka and Tripureswara. What is the legend all about? Three asura brothers named Kamalaksha, Tarakaksha and Vidhyunmali per­formed great tapas and acquired extensive boons. They had also got a promise that they could be destroyed only by Lord Siva, that too only in a single attempt and by a single arrow when their three metallic castles would align in a single line. The Lord destroyed them not by an arrow but with a single smile, and the castles were burnt down.