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Citizens must come forward and utilise the facilities provided by the State Government to learn Music and Dance at nominal rates. One need not study to make a career out of it, but learn to increase knowledge. The three Govt. Music and Dance Colleges in the city offer four-year Certificate and two-year Diploma Courses. Learn to become a Cultural Envoy

Music and dance break all barriers. Children as young as five years are singing and dancing on reality shows. Parents are encouraging them to take part in these shows as it gives the little Masters to exhibit their talent. Who knows these Wonder Kids may become tomorrow’s Super Stars. To hone the talent of art lovers, the Telangana Government is doing yeoman service on this front.

In the City of Pearls, the Department of Language and Culture runs three colleges, namely Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music and Dance at Ramkote, Sri Bhakta Ramdas Government College of Music and Dance at West Marredpally, and Sri Annamacharya College of Music and Dance at Gudimalkapur. The criteria to learn Music or Dance in these colleges is that a person should be 10 years old. Even a 70-year-old ‘young’ student can learn any art form. In short it satisfies one’s unfulfilled desires if any. If a person was busy with his job or academics and is keen to pursue art forms now, he/she can enroll.

According to Director Mamidi Hari Krishna, “In the State, there are four music and dance colleges and two schools that come under the Department of Language and Culture of Telangana. In schools, Certificate Course is taught by assistant lecturers, whereas, in colleges, Certificate is followed by Diploma course (equal to a graduate course), which is taught by senior lecturers. Every year, these colleges and schools conduct half yearly and annual examinations in the month of December and April respectively. Final Certificate and Diploma examination is conducted by the PS Telugu University every year,” the director said.

Since the formation of Telangana State, Music and Dance is being promoted. The State is hosting many international and national cultural events. Hari Krishna says that Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music and Dance at Ramkote, is the only college, which has its own building.

“All other colleges are functioning from rented buildings. Plans are on to ensure that these colleges have their own buildings. For one of the Music and Dance colleges in Nizamabad, I have spoken to the collector to allocate land to build a music and dance college,” he says. To promote arts and drive away fear factor from the students, Hari Krishna has asked the colleges to hold monthly and annual programmes. He says for holding the monthly programmes, the Department pays Rs. 10,000 per month and for the annual Rs. 1,00,000 per annum. “The college can hold the annual event at any function hall near the college, so that the residents in the area know that such a college exists and many must come forward to join to learn,” he says. The Director believes that there should be knowledge expansion. “I have also asked the colleges to conduct guest and expert lectures,” Hari Krishna states.

Not to take a ‘NO’ for an answer, Hari Krishna did not rest till Sri Annamacharya College of Music and Dance was shifted from its old location in the Old City to Gudimalkapur. He began his efforts, since the State was formed, but it took three years to take  shape. “Shifting of the college to the new building in October 2016 has paid rich dividends. The college, which was established in 1996, in the Old City, did not have more than 101 students at any given point of time all these years as the surroundings were unhygienic. But with the shifting of the college, nearly 500 students have taken admission,” says Hari Krishna.

The director feels that every district must have a Cultural Complex spread over 1,000 acre land, with establishment of Music and Dance Colleges along with an auditorium in it. “In short, if the college wants it can hold its events there and art lovers can head to the place for enjoying cultural events. “The Cultural Complexes should come up in at least 10 districts,” he says.

Hari Krishna shares that there are 50 teachers in six colleges. He says that Syllabus is under revision according to the changed perspective. “A committee has been constituted to revise the Syllabus. There are many Vaagyakaars, who have written five to 800 keertans and some of them have been brought to the limelight and they need to be promoted. Selected Bhakta Ramdas keertans are sung, which can be expanded,” he says. The director says since he has assumed charge, he has ensured that cultural programmes are held at the Ravindra Bharathi regularly. “Today, Lalitkala Toranam has become a centre for Workshops, while Cinevaram, a platform for budding film directors/actors is held every Saturday, Theatre Workshops and light classical music sessions every Wednesday at Hall 1,” Hari Krishna says.

With Perini gaining importance as State dance, it has been introduced in Music and Dance Colleges from this academic year. “The government has recruited six Perini teachers to teach the students,” the director says.  One of the oldest colleges, Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music and Dance was established in the year 1952.The college is spread over very large area with numerous classrooms. The college has completed 64 years of service successfully and offers both South Indian and North Indian styles of music and dance. The college has been served by great artists as principals.

Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music and Dance, Principal C Munni Kumar says that the Certificate Course is for a period of four years, followed by Diploma course, which is two year course. Kumar says that students who have passed out from here are gainfully employed as lecturers/teachers, at AIR, Railways to name a few. He says that students studying here get an opportunity to showcase their talent at State Government functions.

“Carnatic Vocal is a popular course at Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music and Dance, Ramkote. The others are Hindustani Vocal, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Violin and Veena. For all the six years, there are nearly 100 students for flute,” Kumar says. He quickly adds that there are not many students for Mridangam.

Speaking about stalwarts from the college, Kumar says that the first names that come to mind are Kuchipudi legends Raja & Radha Reddy, Alekhya Punjala, Saptapadi film fame Sabitha etc. “Our college has been part of shooting of many movies, one of them being ‘Sagara Sangamam’, directed by K. Viswanath. In this movie, some of our lecturers have also participated,” he says. Some of the famous artists who have worked as lecturers in the college are Akella Mallikarjuna Sarma, Nedunuri Krishna Murthy, Hyderabad Sisters Lalitha and Haripriya, Vasa Padmanabham and Dr. Uma Rama Rao.

The college offers Certificate course of four years and Diploma course of two years duration in 14 disciplines. They are Hindustani Vocal, Sitar, Tabla, Kathak Dance, Carnatic Vocal, Carnatic Violin, Veena, Mridangam, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Perini, Dolu, Nadaswaram and Flute. “The academic year is from July to April. And admissions take place in July every year. During admission process, potential student is tested for basic aptitude in the discipline he or she is interested in such as vocal, instrument, and dance. Since music and dance is important to all age groups our college gives admissions to students from 10 years of age,” he says.

College staff participates every year in all important state government functions such as Batukamma Celebrations, Ugadi Celebrations, Independence Day, Telangana Formation Day celebrations, Gandhi Jayanti, Vardanthi, Late Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao Jayanthi and Vardanthi Sri Kaloji Birthday, and Sri Dasarathi Rangacharya Jayanthi. Every year, the college celebrates its annual day. “Every year, we also perform Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana as our college is named after Sri Thyagaraja swamy. Recently, our staff visited Nelakondapally in Khammam district and participated in Sri Bhadrachala Ramadasu jayanthi celebrations,” Kumar says. The College Principal pleaded that the building needs fresh coat of paint and some urgent repairs.

The Govt. School of Music and Dance, Secunderabad was upgraded as Govt. College of Music and Dance, Secunderabad in 1966. Sri Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana was the Principal of the college. The Certificate and Diploma courses were introduced in the year 1970. The college has Carnatic Vocal, Carnatic Veena, Violin, Kuchipudi Dance, Perini, Mridangam, Hindustani Vocal, Sitar and Tabla courses. However, it is not offering Bhartanatyam.

Principal Kandukuri Varalakshmiamma says that the college shifted to new premises with independent building on rent at West Marredpally in the year 1980. “The college has been renamed Sri Bhaktha Ramadasu Govt. College of Music and Dance,” she says. Varalakshmiamma shares that for the convenience of all students, exams are held on a Sunday. Theory and Practical papers carry 100 marks each.  “The students are taught practical and theory lessons too. Before enrolling a student, we ask them to sing or perform just to assess the tone quality. But, one thing we keep in mind is that if a student has come to learn that means it is a blessing from his previous birth,” she says.

Currently, the strength in all six years is approximately 500 students across all art forms. Pawan Kumar, Perini dance teacher says that Perini Nrityam is Telangana dance form. “It originated and prospered In Telangana during Kakatiya Dynasty. It is believed that in ancient times this was performed before the soldiers set to war. “Nataraja Ramakrishna was the person who revived this art form recently. Perini dance form was developed at the time of Ganapathi deva, the king of Kakatiya Empire,” Pawan says.

The SBR College principal shares that they had a three-day performance at Sri Ram Dasu birth place at Nelakondapally in Khammam district on January 31, February 1 & 2 this year and in the college premises on February 3. This helps the college to pay respects to the saint as the college has been named after him.

Students, who have learnt in the Government Colleges  have been appointed as lecturers too. They are T. Sharada, Violin lecturer, S. Anaji Rao, Asst. Lecturer in Vocal, P Ramchandra Sarma, Asst. Lecturer in Mridangam, M. Panduranga Rao, Asst. Lecturer in Sitar, T.V. Ravikanth, Asst. Lecturer in Tabla. Anil Kumar, Asst. Lecturer in Carnatic Violin. P. Jayalakshmi, appointed as Asst. Lecturer in Veena. Sri Rama Chandra, who won the Indian Idol award, in 2010, was a student of B. Haripriya.

The Department of Language and Culture, Government of Telangana, has set a very nominal fee. Application forms are issued every year from June 15th. The cost of an application form is Rs. 25. Annual fee for Certificate Course for first year is Rs. 1050. Second year onwards it is Rs. 550. Annual fee for Diploma Course first year is Rs. 1400 and for second year is Rs. 700. One needs to take one hour class daily. The college functions from 2-7 pm.

The Music and Dance College was a branch of Sri Thyagaraja Govt. Music and Dance College, Ramkote, established by the Govt. in Old city region for the aspirants of art forms back in 1995 in Arya Samaj Mandir, Shalibanda area, Old city. “For about six years, the college was located in the Arya Samaj building, Shalibanda. The Govt. decided to shift the college into the vacant building of Quli Qutub Shah-e stadium, in July 2002,” recalls Hari Krishna.

Later, in 2006, the college was named as Sri Annamacharya Government Music and Dance College. After witnessing the conditions at this building, the Director of the Department of Language and Culture took an initiative towards venturing for a new college building. The present building in Gudimalkapur has been provided by a connoisseur of Indian music and fine art forms.

S.V. Ramana Murthy, who has been working as principal in this college, is a violinist and a disciple of his grandfather Sri Sistla Rajasekharam, who was one and only seven stringed violin artist.

Hari Krishna, Director, Dept. of Language and Culture, has asked all colleges to develop their own website and have details about its alumni and upload its activities from time-to-time.

 

Season 5 of Hyderabad Arts Festival, over three-month India’s longest performing Arts Festival, came to an end following the performance and mega felicitation of the living legend Padma Vibhushan Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. Like all other seasons, HAF Season 5 too had artistes of repute perform at non-ticketed events to celebrate the spirit of Hyderabad across many venues in the city of Nawabs. There was Music, Dance, Art, and Comedy in HAF Season 5 bouquet. The programmes left the Hyderabadis mesmerised.

Curtains came down on Season 5 of Hyderabad Arts Festival with the flute recital of Padma Vibhushan Hariprasad Chaurasia. A 2,000 strong crowd turned up to hear the great flautist. Many of them were seen standing in the corridors to hear the great maestro. Man of many performances and living legend Hari Prasad Chaurasia was honoured on the concluding day, when HAF through young city flautists gave their salutations by presenting ‘Endaro Mahana Bhavulu …’ In turn the youngsters got special gifts (flutes) from the great maestro, a treasure one would keep for ages to come.

Hariprasad Chaurasia applauded the work done by Hyderabad Arts Festival in bringing to town artistes of repute, week after week, without any glitches. He compared it to one getting their daughter married. He stated that organising one programme itself took lot of efforts and organising programmes every Saturday for over three months needs to be commended. The flautist appreciated Hyderabad Arts Festival in hosting non-ticketed programmes, where entry was free. The Hyderabad Arts Festival concept is to bring in good music to Happening Hyderabad.

Celebrating the Spirit

The Hyderabad Arts Festival, which ended on July 22 this year, saw the participation of many renowned artistes like Padma Vibhushan Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Padma Bhushans Radha and Raja Reddy, Pandit Niladri Kumar, and Euphoria Band among many others to celebrate the spirit of Hyderabad.

The festival which took birth in 2012, as Hydourite thanks to the efforts of A.V. Ramakrishna from Hyderabad, C.S. Manoj from Kerala and Capt. Anand from Chennai,has now become India’s longest performing arts festival and popularly known as Hyderabad Arts Festival. “It has gained national importance and we have artistes calling us up to find out if they can perform in HAF. In short, it has become a name to reckon with in the industry,” says Manoj.

“HAF is part of the Happening Hyderabad initiative of the Telangana government and has support from the Govt. of Telangana and many other organisations. In fact, thanks to the State government, we got Shilpkala Vedika as complimentary for two of our concerts – flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s and sitarist Pandit Niladri Kumar’s,” says Ramakrishna.

Interspersing between classical performances, the penultimate programme was the Masala Coffee Band, a young and energetic band that performed foot tapping numbers in the genres of Indian folk, pop and rock. Masala Coffee Band burst into the independent music scene with its eclectic mix of songs, just a couple of years ago. Their lead singer Sooraj Santosh has lent his voice in Tamil industry.

Highlight on Environment

Young Bharatanatyam dancer Kiranmayee Madupu brought to life Porous Earth, the Journey of a River, a thematic solo dance presentation based on an English poem by the same name written by Tejdeep Kaur Menon, a senior IPS officer was performed at Hotel Minerva Grand at Kondapur. Choreographed by Guru Hemamalini Arni, Porous Earth was the journey of a river portrayed through contemporary Bharatanatyam. The river originates from the mountains and encounters mankind, various flora and fauna, pollutants and social evils and finally merges to be one with the sea. Its captivating journey addressed various compelling issues of the society like water pollution and women empowerment through its narrative. At the end of the event, Tejdeep Kaur Menon asked the audiences present to do their bit for environment. “Make your balconies green,” she said.

“This year another new genre was introduced in HAF Season 5 - Stand Up Comedy. It was a rib-tickling comedy all the way when this bunch of crazy, creative and gutsy group of youngsters, Bhargav Ramakrishnan and Alexander of Evam Standup Tamasha took centre-stage,” says Manoj.

Soul Stirring Performance

On the other hand, Pt. Niladri Kumar enthralled the audiences with melodies to foot tapping tunes. Inventor of Zitar, Pt. Niladri Kumar has given several tracks in films such as Dhoom 2 and Omkara. Beginning his humble journey as a musician with tabla, Kumar moved to sitar.He has worked with directors like Laxmikant- Pyarelal, Jonas Hellborg, V.Selvaganesh, John McLaughlin, A. R. Rehman, Pritam and many more.

Padmabhushans Radha and Raja Reddy, along with their daughter Yamini Reddy and disciples presented Bhagawadajjukayam, a dance ballet at Cyber Conventions. The Reddy couple is known to have put Indian Classical dance Kuchipudi on the world map. Produced by Kaushalya Reddy, Bhagawadajjukayam, was a satirical drama written by Bhodhayana around the advent of Christian era with a stress to ridicule the then living style of monks. Yamini played Vasantsena, while her father Raja Reddy played the Buddhist Guru. The interchanging of souls with the interpolation of bodies left a note of mockery and fun. The mockery ended with the Yamadoota restoring the souls into the respective original bodies in a melodramatic style.

Bringing Smiles

HAF in association with Ohri’s group organised HAF Smiles which was supported by JCI Trends and Star Care Foundation, where 300 underprivileged children were given a royal treatment and fed sumptuously. “Apart from giving kids from orphanages a great day, they were also provided with a Power Packed Goodie Bag as a remembrance of the day. The bag they are proud to own,” say Ramakrishna, Manoj, Anand, the trio behind the HAF. “The bag contains personal hygiene and educational products,” adds Anand.

Tejdeep Kaur Menon, DGP - Special Protection Force, Telangana State, engaged the kids on environment to sensitise the kids towards a greener tomorrow. Organisers provided the kids a fun-filled day with lot of games, interactive engagement, food, entertainment and much more.

‘Love - An Endless Journey’ is one such programme performed as part of the festival at Phoenix Arena, Hitech City to give encouragement to local talent. It was a multi art form expression of LOVE through Sand Art, Kathak, Vocals, Violin and Painting.  Painter and sand artist Kanth Risa and Kathak dancer Nishi Ratnam, combined their magical art forms along with Gopi on violin and Sravanthi on vocals, to explore different aspects of Love - visible and invisible, material and spiritual. A fine blend of varied art forms came together to decipher the true meaning of love.

Euphoria Rocks

The HAF Season 5 began on a rollicking note with performance by rock band Euphoria from Delhi. The band put together by Dr. Palash Sen and his friends in 1988 swayed the Hyderabadi audience with their catchy and peppy numbers, mainly of the Yahoo guy Shammi Kapoor.

After pop music, it was Fusion Music, a beautiful blend of instrumental and vocal. Purbayan Chatterjee’s mesmerising sitar combined with Bollywood singer Mahalakshmi Iyer’s melodious Voice, as Ojas’ magical fingers played the tabla and Sanjoy joined with his guitar, to create music that mesmerised everyone in the audience at Botanical Club House, Kondapur.

India’s Longest Performing Arts Festival has been giving platform to many local artists to come out with unique programmes. “Local artistes have been given the stage to share with artistes of national repute. For this, an advisory board had been constituted which has patiently sat and peered over the videos, before selecting the final performer,” says Manoj.

He says, Vijay Marur Communication Professional & Performing Arts Evangelist, would initially streamline the artistes, before presenting it to the board for a final decision. “The Honorary Board of Advisors for HAF Season 5 were JayeshRanjan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Industries & Commerce and ITEC Department, Government of Telangana; Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS Director General of Police – Special Protection Force, Telangana; Mohan Krishna, President, Hotels & Restaurants Association of Telangana State; and Vijay Marur,” says Manoj.

The HAF Season 5 festival formally began with a curtain raiser event, on  Second Saturday of April with Paintings Exhibition by Kanth Risa at Phoenix Arena. IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan and other dignitaries unveiled HAF’s Season 5 Logo on that day. This was followed by an evening of Sufi and Ghazals by Pooja Gaitonde at the Chowmahalla Palace. Pooja’s ghazal renditions created a mystic impact and mesmerised the listeners. She held her audience spellbound.

Unlimited Entertainment

The Hyderabad Arts Festival Season 5 concluded successfully and grandly. To sum up, HAF is over a three-month-long non-ticked festival conceptualized to celebrate the spirit of Hyderabad. “In the last four years, HAF has put together 50 cultural events of varied size and artists according to the preferences of local audiences. Nearly one lakh art and music lovers have witnessed these programs for free.  It has been the endeavour of the organizers to provide unlimited entertainment to the people of the city at no cost and culturally bond them,” says Manoj.

Before signing off, Manoj says that HAF would be back next season with artistes of national repute and living legends. “Bringing in living legends is to thank them for their immense and valuable contribution to the music and dance industry, and help encourage young Hyderabadi enthusiasts to learn and see them perform live,” adds Ramakrishna.

Padma Bhushans Radha and Raja Reddy with over five decades experience have been enthralling the audiences with their performances. Along with them, they are joined with  Raja’s second wife Kaushalya and daughters Yamini and Bhavana, who have all dedicated themselves to Kuchipudi.

Padma Bhushans Radha and Raja Reddy have single-handedly with ultimate devotion and dedication put Kuchipudi on the world map and have become popular as the Dancing Couple. They are joined in their dancing passion by Kaushalya, Yamini and Bhavana and are popularly called The Reddy Family.

Since early childhood Raja Reddy was drawn to dance. In his village, he saw Vijayanthimala’s ‘Nagin’, a record number of 17 times, just for the dance numbers. Guru Raja who hails from a Zamindar’s family is the first in the family to be a dancer. “From an early age, I was interested in Kuchipudi Bhagavatam,” says Guru Raja Reddy.

Recalling his early days, Guru Raja Reddy says that after finishing his Class 10, he shifted to Hyderabad for studies. With passion for dance in his veins, his friend stepped in to help him. He took him to a Kuchipudi guru, who looking at Raja Reddy said that you don’t have the features to become a dancer and you should go back to your village to pursue farming. “You don’t have a slim waist, as in those days men donned the roles of women, and you are dark complexioned too. You can’t be a dancer,” recalled the grand man of Kuchipudi.

Taking no offence to the comment, Guru Raja Reddy along with his friend went to a Music College in Ramkote, Hyderabad, where Kathak was being taught. He began learning Kathak, and his wife Radha, who had joined him in the Pearl City, too took to dance, while observing her husband.  Guruji lost his father while still in school, and his mother just told him to follow what he felt was right. Guruji shares that because for his love for dance, his mother was socially boycotted and she kept it under wraps from her son. “When I came to know about it, I fought it tooth and nail and won the case in court,” says Guru Raja Reddy.

However, luck smiled on Guru Raja Reddy, when Vedantam Prahalad Sharma agreed to teach Kuchipudi provided the couple moved to Eluru. Raja Reddy moved with his wife Radha to Eluru, where Vedantam Prahalad Sharma taught only Tandavam to Raja and Laasya to Radha. The Guru says that his big day came in 1967, when his name was proposed for the single scholarship for Kuchipudi. The couple moved to country’s capital and learnt choreography in the school set up by Maya Rao. “One must learn Choreography, it helps in presenting an item. Choreography is important. Even a simple Nritta item can be presented differently,” he says adding that even his better half Radha learnt choreography.

Throwing more light on his journey, Guru Raja Reddy says that he was grateful to Indrani Rehman, who invited Radha and him to accompany her troupe on their various visits. “For two years, we were part of her group and if we are well-known today, it is thanks to her,” he says.

In the same breath, he thanks Raman, secretary, Tamil Theatre, for giving them the first break. “Dr. Karan Singh was instrumental in helping us get a house in Delhi,” he says. Describing another incident, Guru Raja Reddy says that at one performance on Children’s Day at Teen Murti, Indira Gandhi was astonished to see him bare bodied in early winter and she gave him her shawl and “I treasure it till date”.

Guru Raja Reddy says that Indira Gandhi appreciating their dance form told them not to go back to their State, but stay back in Delhi and popularise the dance by teaching in Delhi. “Kuchipudi is a combination of theatre and dance,” he says, adding that it is their life.

The dancing duo, Raja and Radha Reddy, has given a new dimension to Kuchipudi dance without sacrificing its grammar or hurting its sensibilities. With perfection of technique, and command on the art form, the couple stands tall in their field. A connoisseur of art cannot take his eyes off when the couple light up the stage. The Guru and his wife perfectly portray the manly strength and expressive charm of Shiva-Parvati, Rama-Sita and Krishna-Radha. When the two are on the stage, it looks the sculptures have come to life.

Kaushalya, who learnt dance under Vedantam Rattiah Sarma and Raja-Radha Reddy, has been bestowed with immaculate footwork and sparkling elegance. Kaushalya doesn’t shy away from experimenting. Kaushalya, younger sibling of Radha, is not only Guru Raja’s second wife, but also partner in their professional and personal life. When Radha and Raja Reddy are performing, Kaushalya does the Nattuvangam, and when Kaushalya performs solo, Guru Raja does the Nattuvangam.

Yamini has inherited dance from her parents. She is blessed with chiseled features and has a very enchanting presence with flawless rhythm and expressions. On being the daughter of the legendary couple, Yamini says that she got a readymade platform but with lot of challenges to live up to the standards set by her parents.

Guru Raja shares that he is proud of his daughters, who have dedicated themselves to Kuchipudi. “My elder daughter Yamini got a marriage proposal from abroad, but it was rejected as she said that if she went abroad she would not be able to pursue her passion. Today, she successfully runs the Hyderabad branch of Natya Tarangini, which has 200 students,” he says. The School in Delhi has 300 students learning Kuchipudi.

Bhavana born to Raja and Kaushalya is a dedicated Kuchipudi dancer and vocalist. Guru Raja Reddy says that even his younger daughter Bhavana went to Hollywood and graduated from Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, but returned to India to perform Kuchipudi.

When questioned on whether, he was soft towards his daughters, while teaching them, he said that the two roles never mingled. “When I was teaching them dance, I was a Guru and handled them the same way as the others. Even Radha was strict with them. There was no kind of partiality,” he says.

On promoting Kuchipudi dance, Guru Raja Reddy says: “I am happy that the Andhra Pradesh government has started Kuchipudi as part of curriculum in schools. This will go a long way in inculcating the art form in the youngsters from a tender age.” The Guru stresses that the Next Gen must know about the culture of the country. He feels that the government must work out a mechanism where at least one member of a family is involved in any art form. “In fact, India is known for its art forms and they bring discipline in a person,” he says.

Recalling his memorable moment, Guru Raja Reddy says that following their performance at Hotel Ashoka, the couple were invited to a festival in France, where they presented ‘Dashavataram’ which won them a standing ovation. The dancing duo has toured the length and breadth of the globe and mesmerizing one and all including the Cuban President Fidel Castro. “It was after a trip abroad in Jan 1984, when I noticed six telegrams, three for me and three for Radha, were waiting. They were to inform us that we have been selected for Padma Shri awards individually and together. We were conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2000,” he says.  The couple has been honoured with the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award in 1990 and the prestigious Sangeet Natak Award in 1992.

Raja Reddy says that in the last-minute, they were included to perform at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. “Former President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, who was the chief guest was highly impressed by our presentation and came up and congratulated us,” he says.

Guru Raja Reddy says that to succeed in becoming a good dancer, complete dedication was required.

Bhagawadajjukayam, a Dance Ballet by Padma Bhushan Radha Raja Reddy, Yamini Reddy and students of Natya Tarangini was part of the fifth edition of Hyderabad Arts Festival – Season 5. This was a satirical drama written by Bhodhayana around the advent of Chrisitian era. Vasantsena, a charming courtesan wanders in the garden in her casual routines enjoying the scenic beauty of nature with her sakhis. Yamadhoota, on directions of the God of Death, enters the garden and in the disguise of a snake takes life out of Vasantsena leaving her dead.

Shandilya, a Buddhist monk and an ardent lover of Vasantsena is horrified to see her dead. He is totally lost in grief. His Guru Parivrajaka, a true Buddhist, preaches Aadhyayanam i.e. Buddham Sharanam Gachhami, Sangham Sharanam Gachhami and Dhammam Sharanam Gachhami.

But this is of no avail to Shandilya and in turn Shandilya challenges his Guru Parivrajaka to use his Yogic powers and bring Vasantsena back to life. Parivrajaka, through his art of Parakaya Pravesa drives his own soul from his body into the still body of Vasantsena. As the transformation is completed, Vasantsena comes to life but starts behaving like Parivrajaka. She begins preaching and asks Shandilya to stay away.

On the other side, Yama Dharma Raja, the God of Death finds that Yamadoota by an error had taken out the life of Vasantsena. He orders Yamadoota to restore the life of Vasantsena into its body before it is cremated. Yamadoota on reaching the garden is surprised to find Vasantsena active with life and it took no time for him to realize that Parivrajaka was at play.

Mischievously enough Yamadoota leaves the soul of Vasantasena in the still body of Parivrajaka which is lying around. Oh, now it is Parivrajaka’s turn to behave like Vasantsena. Shandilya is upset with this and tries to figure out what went wrong, He goes from one to the other and sits sadly.

This interchanging of souls with the interpolation of bodies left a note of mockery and fun. The mockery ended with the Yamadoota restoring the souls into the respective original bodies in a melodramatic style.

Prior to the ballet Radha & Raja Reddy presented salutations to Lord Ganesha. Before the programme, Poorvarangam was enacted as it is customary in the Kuchipudi style of presentation. It is preparing the stage before the actual presentation.

India has produced great artists like Raja Ravi Varma, Jamini Roy, M F Husain, S H Reza and Tyeb Mehta to name a few, who have dabbled in various mediums of Art. Even in the City of Nawabs, there are stalwarts like Laxma Goud, Laxman Aelay, Surya Prakash and Thota Vaikunta, who have put Telangana art on the world map. Today, as you walk down the Hussain Sagar Road, there are some artists who do live sketches and come vacations, many students also adults take up painting as a hobby. In Art, there are different kinds of mediums - colour pencils, pastels, oils, acrylics, ink and charcoal where brushes, knives or sponges can be used to fill in colours. Added to this there are different styles of art – Madhubani, Kalighat, Kangra, Rajput, Mughal, Samikshavad, Tanjore, Warli, Kerala mural painting among many others.  Whatever is the Art Medium or Style, enjoy filling in the colours on the Canvas magnificently.

The first gift one gets as a child is a box of crayons and Colouring Book or a Magic Painting Book - you just add water and the hidden colours emerge lighting up a child’s face. Or if your handwriting is bad, you are told to do colouring and stick to your line, in short ensuring that you don’t step out from the circle while colouring, which teaches us concentration and patience. I am sure many of us would have undergone this as a child and the same would be happening with this generation of kids too.

A lay man may not know that there are different kinds of mediums and Styles in Art. One of the most popular art mediums used across the world is Oil Paints or Acrylic, Water Colour, Black ink, Pencil, Charcoal, Coffee Essence, Mixed Media, to name a  few. Some of the styles of painting  –  Chinese, Tang Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, Shan shui, Ink and wash painting, Hua Niao, Zhe School, Wu School, Contemporary, Japanese, Yamato-e, Rimpa School, Emakimono, Kano School, Shijo School, Super Flat, Korean, Islamic, Persian miniature, Mughal miniature, Ottoman miniature, in the Indian there are - Oriya School, Bengal School, Kangra, Madhubani, Mysore, Rajput, Mughal, Samikshavad, Tanjore, Warli, Kerala mural painting among many others.

What’s that one name that comes to you, when you think of a contemporary Indian artist - M F Husain, who began his humble journey as a painter, but went on to win international laurels for the country. Among some of the proud Indian names include Raja Ravi Verma, Jamini Roy, Amrita Shergill, Tyeb Mehta to name a few. In apna Hyderabad, the popular names include Thota Vaikuntam, Laxman Aelay, Laxma Goud and Surya Prakash to name a few.

In the world, the names that ring a bell include Michael Angelo and Pablo Picasso. Picasso, a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright, is considered as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. The Spanish artist is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, co-inventor of collage, and wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Picasso’s work is often categorised into periods.

Considered to be the greatest living artist during his lifetime, despite making inroads into many disciplines, Michael Angelo took up such a high order of work that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow artist, Leonardo da Vinci. He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, before he turned 30. Angelo was often called Il Divino. Many artists have tried to imitate Michael Angelo’s impassioned and highly personal style.

In lay terms, Painting is applying paint, pigment, colour or other medium to a surface with a brush and other materials like knives, sponges, combs, brushes and others. Painting is a form of expression and it can be done on surfaces like walls, paper, canvas, wood, glass, lacquer, clay, leaf, copper and concrete. Other materials like sand, clay, paper, plaster, gold leaf, and objects can be used in a painting for visual appeal.

Stepping into the Siri Institute of Painting, located in Himayat Nagar, one was greeted with many students engrossed in art on a busy afternoon. The young children were busy using pencil and pastel colours to enthuse colour into their drawings. Some were on the easel, giving finishing touches to their works, while the others were sketching and drawing. Instructors were there to help them.

Swamy, Director, said that a person can start off in any medium of art. “Each medium has its own advantages and is often suitable to various types of painting. Most artists begin with one medium and after experimenting with others, settle in their choice of medium. Most professionals use the acrylic, oil painting, mixed media – where materials like sand and wood are used in the art work.”

Swamy said that it would be ideal for an artist to begin with the basics of drawing rather than straight away get into painting. “Drawing will create perfection and help in putting it on paper, the visualisation in mind,” he said. Swamy feels that if one sincerely practices with some tips, everyone can draw. “A good grasp of the basic techniques of drawing will help in many mediums as well as pencil, charcoal, pastels or pen and ink,” he said.  The director said that Charcoal medium helps in shading and structuring outlines and this shading will give the painting more depth.

“Working with Pastels can also be fun and different results can be achieved if used with other mediums. On the other hand, one can graduate to Water colours as they dry quickly and can be done on paper and if unhappy trash it and make a fresh one,” he said.

According to the director, painting with Acrylics can be fun but for an artist to get used with this medium takes time. He states that Acrylic paints are water-soluble and they dry quickly. He advises that Acrylics should be used to one’s advantage and it shows up if it is used to create abstract works. One can paint Acrylics on to many surfaces including the canvas or board. “Use of Oil paints can be a little difficult, if the artist is not perfect in using thinners and other paraphernalia,” he said.

Personally, the director, who won a painting competition, at the Republic Day parade in 1988, as a NCC cadet was given a job, in the NCC Directorate, Hyderabad, as clerk, but with passion for painting, he quit that and enrolled at the College of Fine Arts Hyderabad for BFA. “Ages ago when colour photography had not invaded the country in such large numbers, the elite thought it as a privilege to get artists to paint their portraits. Sometimes, it was live painting too,” Swamy said.

The director began his artistic journey with portraits, and started the Siri Institute in the early 1990s. His school is open to children from five years. “Age is sno matter to join. Till date, thousands of students have learnt from here, and many of them have taken it up as a profession,” he shared. His wife Siva Kumari too is an artist and runs a Siri branch at Banjara Hills.

Swamy said that just like the alumni of a university and college, their students too have formed an organisation, Siri Artists’ Welfare Association, which regularly holds exhibitions and takes students to places like Ajanta and Ellora and Warangal for live painting. “Recently, Siri Institute of Paintings & Siri Artists’ Welfare Association held ‘The Mystic Musings in Stone’, an exhibition of murals and paintings of Khajuraho Temple Sculptures at Muse Art Gallery in January – February 2017.

“A group of artists thought it fit to pay a befitting tribute to these sculptors, by replicating, the wonderful sculptures for the view of art lovers, and bring out an exhibition of murals and paintings,” Swamy said.

He clarifies that Tanjore Painting, Fabric Painting, Glass Painting and Etching fall under craft category.  “To complete one Tanjore painting, it takes nearly a month depending on the size and intricacies. It needs lot of patience and many women are interested in this,” he said. Swamy said that even Telangana paintings have their beauty. “They can be distinguished by the vibrant colours and big Bindi and turmeric. In Andhra Pradesh too, the Kalamkari from Srikalahasti has its own distinctive style,” he said.

If you have been to the Hussain Sagar or Indira Park in the evenings, you can catch many artists trying to sketch people live. “If you have practiced your lines well, a sketch will take not more than half an hour,” he said.  The director advises that an artist must practice with concentration and deep involvement to make a success of his career. “Painting is an expression that lets out your emotions. It is one form of meditation. Fine Arts will always be there. Culture is always caught on the canvas for preservation and posterity,” he said.

One Centre in the heart of the city that regularly conducts different kinds of art workshops, Our Sacred Space, ignites the young and old alike. In recent times, they have held workshops on Tanjore Painting, Pencil and Charcoal, Coffee Essence, Kalighat, Madhubani, Pata Chitra, sketching among many others.

Trishna Pattnaik, Mumbai-based artist has conducted a series of workshops at Our Sacred Space. “Charcoal is a wild counterpart: it’s bold, daring and dramatic. It’s much darker than any pencil and has richness, making drawing with charcoal a completely unique experience,” she said. Trishna said that drawing pencils are often considered to be sturdy, reliable and precise. “Every pencil artist has their own way of doing things. The workshop showcased some methods of working with drawing pencils and charcoal,” she said. Using these methods the budding artists could recreate abstract, floral, landscape and even portraits.

The word Kali brings into mind the land of Bengal, where Goddess Kali is worshipped. History states that Kalighat painting or Kalighat Pat originated in the 19th century Bengal, in the vicinity of Kalighat Kali Temple, Kolkata. Many visitors to the area would take back souvenirs after a visit to the Kali temple, and over the years, Kalighat paintings emerged as a distinct style of painting.

“From the depiction of Hindu gods, goddesses, and other mythological characters, the Kalighat paintings developed to reflect a variety of themes,” said the historian. Another style of art is ‘Pata Art’ By Patuas. In mana city, national awardee Ranjit Chitrakar has conducted workshops. History states that Pata is an ancient folk art, so ancient that it has been mentioned in the Puranas and other early literature. “This style of painting is similar to the cave paintings of Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Ajanta.”

Pata, an ancient folk art, is appreciated by art lovers all over the world for its effortless style of drawings, colours, lines and space usage. The world Pata derived from the Sanskrit word Patta means cloth. The painters are called Patuas. Patuas do not just paint, they also sing as they unfurl the painting scroll to show it to the audience. The songs are of wide variety ranging from traditional mythological tales and tribal rituals to stories based on modern Indian history and contemporary issues. Patuas generally use natural colours procured from trees, leaves, flowers and clays.

Trishna Pattnaik, who has conducted Coffee Essence Workshop here, said that it is basically coffee painting. “Fabulous compositions can be made with just coffee and water. The intriguing factor in this art form is how a simple coffee concoction is used to derive different tones, get various patterns in place and finally it sums up into an art work,” she said. With coffee, artists can create anything beginning from abstracts, graphics, and landscapes to even figurines.

The other styles of painting are Madhubani, a tribal art form that is a free hand art with lot of scope for imagination and innovation. Gond Painting, primarily motifs and themes. The country has produced remarkably brilliant artists, and the art dates back to ancient times, which is visible even today in the cave paintings of Ajanta and Ellora. Indian painters have excelled their proficiency in religious and abstracts.

Some Popular Hyderabadi artists are:

Laxman Aelay: Laxman Aelay’s subject has been the life of people from his village and specific culturally of a village with men, women against the backdrop of their homes. He likes doing indeterminates and is now specialising in Hyperrealism.

Laxma Goud: Laxma Goud is a painter, printmaker and draughtsman. He works in variety of mediums including etching, gouache, pastel, sculpture, and glass painting. He is best known for his early drawings that depict rural environment.

Thota Vaikuntam: Thota Vaikuntam’s paintings capture simple lifestyle of villagers like paddy fields, toddy pots on shoulders of men, household chores, temple rituals etc. The women in his paintings have big bindi. His drawings range from stark charcoal on paper, transparent washes and pencil drawings.

Surya Prakash: Surya Prakash works mainly in oils and acrylic and is inspired by the French Impressionists. His works are in a number of individual and Institutional collections all over the world.

A Distinguishable painting from South

Tanjore Painting originally hails from a place in Tamil Nadu called Thanjavur. The Tanjore painting is distinguished by its famous gold coating. They are categorised by rich, flat and vivid colours, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but widespread gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or very rarely precious and semi-precious gems.

Principally serving as religious icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints. Episodes from Hindu Puranas and Sthala-puranas are visualised, sketched or traced and painted with the main figures in the central section of the picture. Tanjore works are executed on canvas pasted on a wooden support and framed. Generally vivid reds, deep greens, chalk white, turquoise blues and lavish use of gold (foil) and inset glass beads are used in these paintings.

I have been learning painting for the last two years. It is my passion to learn art. In these two years, I have learnt all mediums – Charcoal, Pencil, Water Colours, Acrylic and others. Whatever art works I have created I have given it to my teachers and people.

Wanna love nature, look no further, head to the picturesque Ameenpur Lake, to watch the flora and fauna and soak in the beauty of the resident and migratory birds. This Lake, which has been declared a Biodiversity Heritage Site, is all thanks to the efforts of Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, Telangana Special Protection Force, and her team.

Saving water bodies is the order of the day as day by day water is becoming a scarce commodity and at many places lakes are being encroached upon. Thanks to the untiring efforts of one woman and her staff, the Government of Telangana declared the Ameenpur Lake, Sangareddy District as a ‘Biodiversity Heritage Site’ under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 vide G.O.Ms.No.70, dated 15th November, 2016.

“It is the first such water body declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site in the country and that too in an urban environment,” said Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, Telangana Special Protection Force (TSPF). The TS Biodiversity Board has constituted the Biodiversity Heritage Site Management Committee making her the Convener of the panel. Sharing the preservation of Ameenpur Lake, Tejdeep Kaur Menon said that the Telangana State Special Protection Force had adopted the Ameenpur Lake system on August 7, 2015, from the Collector, Medak to maintain the eco-system in its neighbourhood.

The Ameenpur Lake consists to an extent of 93.15 acres and five small lakes Kummari Kunta (11.28 acres), Kotha Kunta (7.39 acres), Setty Kunta (17.18 acres), Bandam Kunta (7.38 acres) and Mallanna Kunta (39.18 acres). The gutsy lady and her team have spent nealy two years to redefine the Lake.  “The Telangana State Special Protection Force with about 150 volunteers joined hands with two youth groups, Hyderabad Birding Pals and Phulkari, the ladies wing of the Punjabi Sabha organised a clean-up campaign at Ameenpur Lake, two-years ago,” recalled Tejdeep Kaur.

The Campaign was supported by the GHMC, Collector and District Magistrate, Medak, District Police, Medak and the Gram Panchayat, Ameenpur. The Ameenpur Lake is abutting the SPF Training Academy located in Ameenpur, Medak.

“The TSPF also adopted Ameenpur village under the Grama Jyothi programme so as to oversee the development of the village by taking appropriate measures in the key sectors of environment, health, education, water, sanitation, social security and natural resource management tasks that are defined in the programme and for which it has created a waste disposal system. It has voluntarily taken up clean up campaigns to bring awareness on the need for conservation of the ecological system,” she said.

The TSPF with the help of residents initiated a garbage disposal system in cooperation with the Sangareddy District authorities. “The TSPF employees volunteered and took up more than 100 clean-up drives to bring awareness among the public on the need for conservation of the ecological system,” she said.

The police official further stated that at the same time, the TSSPF had also taken up protection of the lake with its staff stationed at the TSSPF Training Academy patrolling the perimeter of the lake and the lake bed to prevent any blatant violation of conservation measures and other activity that disturbed the birds that flocked to the lake.

Speaking on the importance of the Lake, Tejdeep Kaur said that the Lake was home to many migratory and resident birds. “There is a huge list of Flora and Fauna that is found in and around the lake,” she said. The senior cop said that tremendous Biodiversity was available at Ameenpur Lake with a variety of herbs, shrubs, creepers, medicinal flora, trees, animals, reptiles, birds, insects, microbes etc.

The DGP pointed out that there are around 222 species of birds (migratory and residents), 250 plant species (including rare and medicinal), 9 fish species, 26 aquatic beetles, 41 butterfly species, 33 species of invertebrates, 12 amphibian species, 33 reptiles species, 9 species of wild animals and millet diversity is available in the area.

“The Ameenpur Lake is one of the few water bodies left in the State of Telangana. They are the most sought free haunt of bird watchers as a variety of avian species, with 222 species with both resident and migrant birds.  Most of the nesting sites for the birds and reptiles are found at TS SPF Training Academy,” she said proudly. She stated that apart from the avi-fauna, the lake is surrounded by wonderful rock formations, and also, there are reports of three caves in a granite rock cropping on the shores of the lake.  “Unlike sandstone and limestone caves, these caves do not have any stalagmites and stalactites but are dark and cool even during summer,” Tejdeep Kaur said.

At the beginning of this year, the Telangana State Special Protection Force, in association with the Andhra Bank, Collector, Sangareddy District, Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) and Friends of Flora and Fauna Society (FoFF) organized the Youth for Manohara Ameenpur campaign at Ameenpur village.

“The Youth for Manohara Ameenpur campaign is part of the joint initiative of the Telangana State Special Protection Force, Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) and Friends of Flora and Fauna Society (FOFF) in raising the level of consciousness and involving youth, particularly school and college goers, in the efforts to rejuvenate the Ameenpur lake system,” Tejdeep Kaur said. She said that this was done to make them appreciate Nature and by making those living in the neighbourhood of the lake aware of the need to protect it and take up Lake conservation measures.

Tejdeep Kaur said that during the clean-up campaign in June 2015, they observed a drastic reduction in the avi-fauna in the lake and after thorough analysis they felt that it was due to some activities that were threatening the Lake and its biodiversity. “The activities included Fishing and marketing, land encroachment, fencing, construction of buildings and colonies, construction in FLT area including of construction of religious structures, bore-well tapping, driving of water tankers, tractors and other heavy vehicles, trespassing by locals, parking of vehicles, throwing stones at the birds to name a few,” she said.

The senior police official said that immersion of idols during Ganesh Chaturthi, washing of vehicles, letting sewerage from the surrounding colonies into the lakes, littering of plastic, glass, thermacol, aluminum cans, fishing nets and garbage dumping and burning were posing a threat not only to the lakes, but to the entire bio-diversity abutting the lake, which provided a haven to most of the birds and reptiles. Tejdeep said that emergence of factories, housing colonies and other encroachments, including mines, in the lake conservancy zone has posed environmental threats in the area around the lake. “There are several issues like the unauthorized occupation of the lake bed where layouts have sprung up, the flow of domestic wastage and industrial effluents besides the killing of birds as game or for exotic meat of which there is evidence in the lake environs that have to be addressed,” she stated.

After sustained efforts to protect the Lake, Telangana State Pollution Control Board came forward to sample and test waters after it was discovered pollutants from nearby chemical and beverage industries besides sewage from upstream colonies had already percolated into the lake. “While some discharged effluents and residential colonies let out their sewage others were drawing water from the lake illegally for processing and use.  The Pollution Control Board is now working on putting up a sewage treatment plant with funds provided by the industries in the vicinity of the lake,” Tejdeep said. Under the able leadership of Tejdeep Kaur, the TSPF planned and executed a Vanamahotsav – a massive tree planting festival in which with the support of the Sarpanch dug pits and placed 4,000 saplings in the open areas of the lake bed and around the lake.  “We planted bird nesting and feeding trees.

As the lake has served as an irrigation tank in the past, the State Irrigation and Mines Minister T. Harish Rao was invited to flag off the Vanamahotsav,” she said.  The TSPF Chief stated that her Force had consulted and coordinated its effort with several Departments and other entities to protect the lake so that the species that flock to the lake come there in larger numbers. Andhra Bank has conducted health camps in eye and dental, for students of government schools, in Ameenpur mandal and adjacent areas as part of CSR. Apart from this, the TSSPF and Round Table India organised a camp for elders and children of Ameenpur. Painting, essay writing, quiz and singing competitions for school children on Nature related themes as part of the programme.

Tejdeep summed up saying that the Ameenpur example shows that there are several challenges. “The most vital are Commission Sewage Treatment Plants, to make the water drinkable; Create a permanent and lasting waste disposal system; Firm up the Full Tank Level; Create a habitat for the nesting and breeding of the birds; Set up watch towers from where school goers as well as adults can sight the birds; and, Open a Biodiversity Museum,” she explained.

Tejdeep Kaur conferred Earth Hero Award

The Sanctuary Asia declared Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, TS SPF and the Telangana State Special Protection Force (TSSPF) as ‘Earth Hero’ and presented its coveted The Sanctuary Wildlife Awards - Wind Under The Wings Award, in Mumbai in December 2016. The award is given for distinguished work in spearheading exceptional initiatives to clean, rejuvenate and protect urban water bodies.

Villagers sensitized against idol immersion

During the Ganesh immersion, all efforts are made to sensitise not to immerse in the tank and a small mini tank bund is created for this purpose. “During the Ganesh Chaturthi and Dussera Festival as soon as the idols are immersed they are removed by the volunteers of the Force,” Tejdeep Kaur said.

She said that meetings were held with the villagers and leaders sensitising them to prevent polluting the waters of the lake. “Pamphlets are distributed to all colonies, houses and apartments abutting the lake, and propaganda is carried out with the local police. A 24-hour vigil is kept around the lake and immersion is prevented,” she said. Tejdeep further said that the other activities are prevention of mining and sand quartz in the area involving Director of Mines staff and with local police.

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