About Contact Submit Article or Event

Rural Diaries | A Travelogue

by Priya Raman

“Kuchipudi may be a hollowed place for the lovers of the dance form named after the village, it is just like any other neglected place of rural India, with all its poverty, squalor and misery. Hoary past and glorious tradition may be nice things to speak of from a position of vantage in public meetings but to those who are a part of that tradition living in unenviable conditions of neglect and hardship, it is no wonder, if all that tall talk sounds like adding insult to injury”, laments A.S.P Surya Rao in his book – Dr. Vempati, Meastro with a mission.

I picked up this book from one of those antique looking book stores in Vijayawada as I was heading to Kuchipudi, for this would be a companion to savour the roots of the village, made iconic by one man – Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. Even as these first few lines of the book bothered me, our driver Nani Chakradhar with his intriguing character had better stories of the village and his own that I had no choice but to put the book down and embark on a personal experience.

Kuchipudi is a cozy village about an hour and a half drive from Vijayawada where Dr. Vempati, the doyen of Kuchipudi dance lived and fled from in search for greater dancing hues. What he in turn did to the village is for everyone to see and hear! The road along this 60 Km drive makes for good visuals with greenery on both sides, peaceful pastures and small villages passing by now and then acclimatizing the traveler with the flavours of the village. This is a journey that prepares the anticipated visitor to his destination.

Kuchipudi, this time wore a festive look with the ongoing Tanisha Festival of dance being put together by a handful of greats and dance enthusiasts who still occupy the village and supported by Dr. Vempati’s Kuchipudi Kala Kendra of Chennai. The festival conducted annually is held at a make shift open stage put up along the walls of the village temple of Bala Tripura Sundari, the presiding deity. The week long festival covers the entire gamut of Indian classical dances ranging from Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Mohiniattam, Yakshagana, Kathakali and Satriya. About four performances in both group and solo genres are packed each day with the event stretching up to 10 PM at least. Attracting huge crowds from across the villages, the local media and students of the Kuchipudi School just opposite the temple, the Tanisha festival is surely a big affair. Imaginably so then the local vendors have a field day with mouth watering bajjis , chats and other snack stalls and tender coconuts lining the way!

This much loud pomp and show was sublimely complimented on the other hand with a host of art writers, documentary film makers, dance learners and young enthusiasts from across the country camping in the hostels of the Kuchipudi school getting that raw angle, the right shot ,the right idea or to say the right tranquility. Add to this, the serene atmosphere of the village fits the bill perfectly for all intellectual pursuits. The Kuchipudi school run by the Government does need a mention for its vast and spacious campus, hygienic accommodation and a well serving canteen.

Let alone all the dancing and the cultural activity, what touched the heart is that the village and its inmates emanate a strong aura of warmth and humbleness, they build relationships easily and make their best effort to help a visitor. I say this after a first hand experience of some wonderful hospitality on the part of the organizers, help rendered and knowledge shared by experienced dance teachers and support from staff at all locales.

Though I recall and wonder at the strange formalities of the local media. Media personnel would tap at our door every one hour to personally collect information about the upcoming performance. (The items and their synopsis).They clicked photographs (calling it passport photographs!), collected brochures and profiles and quietly slipped away. I pondered on it for a while only to see the papers next day reproducing the content verbatim with adjectives here and there including items which made for last minute cancellations!

As I performed a recital that was characterized with fulfilling manodharma, it was a indeed a fortunate moment to have Padmashri Vedantam Satyanarayana Sharma make a diligent presence at the performance, give his blessings and go even further providing useful tips!


kiran mayee said...

nice article priya... i wish i could see more pictures or videos from the program.

kalaparva said...

Thanks Kiranmayee. Not any photos other than the ones that appeared in the regional papers.

Post a Comment