The much-awaited Sangeet Natak Academy Awards 2017 have been announced yesterday.
The General Council of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, New Delhi at its meeting held on 8 June 2018 in Imphal (Manipur) has selected 42 artists for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2017. It includes 19 artists from Classical Music and Dance field.
Classical Claps is happy to take its readers through some important trivia that one should know about the Classical Musicians and Dancers who have been selected for this award.
Rama Vaidyanathan trained under the legendary Yamini Krishnamurthy and Guru Saroja vaidyanathan. Rama, as an artist, has lent her own thought process to the sphere of Bharat Natyam, without destroying the core principles of the traditional dance form. Her style is unique because of the delicacy of expressions and a stoic devotion in her body language. Few people know that this beauty is an amazing combination with brains and is a businesswoman herself. She has launched her own group-buying portal called mydala.com. Her fresh perspective and comprehensive approach to Bharat Natyam for so many years has found the highest recognition as a performing artist.
Dr. Shobha Koser’s fans would agree that her receipt of the Sangeet Natak Academy Award was long due. The founder and registrar of the Pracheen Kala Kendra, Dr. Koser has worked relentlessly for the propagation of Indian arts all over the world. An erudite in her own right, Dr. Shobha Koser holds a triple MA with distinction in dance and holds many prestigious positions in many organisations. Apart from that, she is undoubtedly the leading exponent of the Jaipur Gharana, having trained under Kanhiya Lal and then under Guru Kundan Lal Gangani.
Madambi Subramanian Namboodiri’s silent, artistic crusade to preserve the originality and beauty of Kathakali music is legendary in South India. A new website has been launched by the young generation Katahakali dancers to preserve all the contributions, the grandmaster of Kathakali music has made so far. Madambi has painstakingly propagated anti-experimental spirit in Kathakali for years and has strongly upheld the pure and traditional norms of Kathakali Music. He is a recipient of many prestigious awards. With the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, his position as a traditionalist and purist in today’s changing world of musical ethics has been vindicated.
Deepika Reddy’s name has become synonymous with Kuchipudi as the dancer worked her way through numerous live performances in India and the world over and won many accolades and awards. Reddy trained under her mother for many years, after which, she took further training from Vempati Chinna Sathyam. Her life story is a big motivation for dancers and artists – the dancer left the stage and did not return to it for seven solid years of her life due to ill health. However, upon the insistence of her Guru Vampati Chinna sathyam, Deepika re-started her career with unflinching devotion and despite the long gap as a performing artist, got back with fury in her nerves in performing and propagating the Kuchipudi dance form. The Sangeet Natak Academy Award is like a jewel in her throne.
Sujata Mohapatra is the disciple and daughter-in-law of the Late Padmavibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and subsequently, her husband and second Guru Rathikant Mohapatra. However, it cannot be said that it is only her association with the maestros has won her a landing ground in the world of performing arts. Sujata proved her dexterity at a very early age and continued her training under the late Guru for eighteen years. She has also been part of research work at the Odissi Research Centre and currently heads “Srjan”, the school where Odissi is taught to disciples of all ages that begins from toddlers. Sujata’s grace on stage has made her a legendary performer in India.
Guru Ramkrishna Talukdar is the first Sattriya Dancer in India who has acquired an “A” Grade by the Delhi Doordarshan Kendra, new Delhi. He is a gold medallist in Sattriya Dance from Gauhati University and has also done his MA in Kathak. Guru Ramkrishna Talukdar has established the Nartan Kala Kendra in gauwahati in 1987, the only Sattriya Dance Academy of its stature all over India to preserve, propagate and train this rare dance form. Talukdar’s contributions to this dance form has reached a different dimension altogether with his blending of spiritualism and science into this form.
Ashit Desai had won the All India Radio’s Best Singer Award in 1969. Aashit Desai’s solid training has enabled him to become a singer as well as build a fantastic repertoire in composition and arrangement. Aashit Desai received the GIMA Award for the best Ghazal album in 2015. Desai has also composed many jingles throughout his career and has a vast repertoire in the Gujrati music industry consisting of TV Serials, Feature Films and independent Albums. Desai’s baritone makes for a great singer himself.
Smt. Lalith J. Rao holds a bachelors and Masters in Electrical Communication Engineering from the University of Brunswick. However, what sets her apart is the courage and confidence with which, this exponent of the Agra Gharana abandoned her Engineering career and stepped into the world of a full time Hindustani Vocal singer. Rao started training under Rama Rao Naik and later on, moved under the tutelage of Dinkar Kaikini and Khadim Hussain Khan. “Sajan Milap”, a trust to popularize the music of Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan, was set up by Rao. She had also worked as the Chief Coordinator for the ford Foundation Archival Project at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy from 1989 to 1991. She was also instrumental in the archiving of rare compositions of the Agra Gharana at the Ethno-Musicology Department of the University of Washington, Seattle. Lalith J. Rao currently lives in Bangalore and teaches music there.
Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha – better known as the Gundecha brothers, had their moorings in the Dagarvani under the tutelage of Zia Mohiuddin Dagar and Zia Fariduddin Dagar. Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha have come a long way in popularizing a branch of Indian Classical Music that almost lost its popularity post Indian Independence. Firmly rooted in the belief that the practice of Classical Indian music can bring about a deep, profound change within in order to bring a change in the environment, the Gundecha brothers set up the Gundecha Gurukul in Bhopal to help sustain the tradition of this ancient art form in India. The Sangeet Natak Academy Award brings about a big hope with this award for the rest of the performing arts fraternity, especially for those who have been engaged in the propagation of the not-so-popular Indian art forms since years.
Pt. Yogesh Samsi is the son of the illustrious Pt. Dinkar Kaikini. Yogesh had initially trained in Tabla under Pt. H. Taranath Rao and later on, went under the tutelage of Ustad Alla Rakha Khan under whom, he trained for 23 years. Yogesh is one of the very few musicians in the Indian Classical platform who does not have a website to himself, doesn’t resort to playful publicity, almost never plays fusion concerts and remains very quiet until asked any specific question by the media. Yet, Yogesh is the most sought-after and a favourite accompanist and soloist whom everybody considers a privilege to have on stage. Yogesh’s artful and subtle accompaniment and soulful solos have taken him across India and the world and is perhaps the most deserving awardee in this year’s list.
Pt. Rajendra Prasanna has learned music from his father, Pt. Raghunath Prasanna in Varanasi. He is a recipient of various awards and accolades which includes the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Academy Award which was conferred upon him about 2 decades ago. He balances both the Bansuri and Shehnai with equal dexterity and is one of the very few wind instrumentalists in India to have performed in the major national festivals and international venues and festivals like the Womadelaide and the Edinburgh Festival.
M S Sheela is the first lady from Karnataka to have a Top Rank in AIR in both Carnatic Classical, devotional and light music from AIR. A Gold Medallist and a Post Graduate in Music from Bangalore University, she along with her husband Prof BK Ramaswamy has co-founded the Hamsadhwani Creations which is an innovative medium to propagate Classical Music through albums. She has also trained rigorously in Bharatnatyam and was an active performer until the 90’s after which, she chose music as her path. However, her sensibilities ina different medium other than vocal music has made her musical renditions rich and replete with soul, expressions and technic.
A performer, teacher and scholar of Veena, Dr. Suma Sudhindra has travelled across the world giving performances and making listeners aware of this ancient Indian instrument. She is an able administrator too apart from being a performer and holds prestigious positions in the Sangeet Natak Academy, New Delhi and the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore. Dr Suma Sudhindra was bestowed with the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award in 2001 for her contribution to music. She has also been honoured with Kalaimamani Award from the Tamil Nadu Government, Ganakalabhushana Award from Karnataka Ganakala Parishat and Vainika Kalabhushani from Thyagaraja Ganasabha. On hearing her performance, the Mayor of Baltimore in the USA conferred an honorary citizenship upon her.
Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan hails from a musical family where he got a very meticulous and systematic training under his grandfather Sri Tiruvarur Kunju Iyer and his uncle Sri Tiruvarur Nagarajan. He, later on, polished his training under the great Karaaikudi Mani after which, he has been a stage performer and teacher. He is a recipient of numerous awards and is a very good team-player of an accompanist, apart from a virtuous soloist.
Shashank Subramanyam’s name is synonymous with his instrument – the young maestro’s musicianship and virtuosity have made him one of the best flute players of India today. He has performed for the Music Academy Chennai at the age of 12 on a senior slot, which is a record yet to be broken till date. Apart from Carnatic Classical performances, Shashank has also collaborated with stalwarts and experimented with his music with the likes of John McLaughlin, Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty, The New Jungle Orchestra and Ustad Zakir Hussain. A vibrant performer, Shashank was trained by his father Subramanyam and vocal maestros R.K. Srikantan and Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami . He has also trained in Hindustani Classical Music under Pt. Jasraj. The Sangeet Natak Academy is a much-awaited award for this young artist who has represented India in the major festivals and venues all over the world.
Manipuri dancer L.N.Oinam Ongbi Dhoni Devi is also in the list of Awardees along with Bharatanatyam exponent Dr. Sandhya Purecha for over all contribution in the dance field.
Bharatanatyam dancer Sandhya Purecha has founded the dance institute ‘ Kala Parichaya’ and has been its Director for the past fifteen years. She is a researcher and took an active part in her Guruji’s research work on ‘Abhinaya Darpanam’. Sandhya has also endeavored to bring about a wider appreciation of the art through seminars, workshops, lecture demonstration and write-ups on dance. She has written a number of papers on various dance topics over the years. She is disciple of Guru Acharya Parvatikumar.