The district administration and the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), in association with Samudra Arts International (SAI), honoured multifaceted artist Vyjayantimala Bali at a formal function held at Durbar Hall here on Sunday.
Kochiites flocked in fair numbers to the grounds to get a glimpse of the yesteryear cine actor and well-known Bharatanatyam exponent who dazzled the silverscreen in the 1950s and 60s.
Union Minister K V Thomas presented the ‘Diamond On Silver’, an honorary award constituted by SAI this year to ‘honour living legends’, to Vyjayantimala.” It’s an honour for us to honour you,” the minister said while presenting the award.
The minister, who was a colleague of the danseuse when she was a Member of Parliament, also fondly recalled how the artist was always given a venerable status in the House. “Once Vyjayantimala raised her hand to ask a question in the Parliament. The Speaker did not consider her. I was a young member then and I remember how all of us stood up and requested the Speaker to give her a chance to speak. That was the level of respect the members had for her,” K V Thomas said.
Speaking on the occasion, Vyjayantimala said that she’s grateful to be considered a ‘living legend’. A dancer who started dancing at the tender age of eight, she was also in praise for the virtues of art in society. “Art can bring people closer, bring purity and tranquility to the mind,” she said.
Speaking to ‘Express’ earlier in the day, the veteran performer said that of late she has returned to her first love, Bharatanatyam, and stressed that she is still an enthusiastic learner of the art form. “I am not an achiever, I’m a pursuer. I started dancing at a very early age but even now before I go on to the stage, I’m a bundle of nerves. I will still have butterflies in my stomach like I had during my first performance,” she said.
A colourful cultural evening followed the award ceremony. It started with Rama Vaidyanathan’s intricate Bharatanatyam footwork to the rhythm of tabla by Shiva. Other performances included Saskia Rao de Haas’ composition in Indian Cello and Quincy Kendell Charles’s Kathak performance, among a variety of other programmes.
SAI chairman and MD Veena Janardanan, District Collector P I Sheik Pareeth, Hibi Eden MLA and Mayor Tony Chammany, among others, spoke.