HYDERABAD : Sometimes, a book release can be a dry affair but this one was teamed with a classical dance and music performance and accompanied by speeches from articulate and knowledgeable persons, so it was indeed an absorbing event by all accounts.
The book Keligopalam, which is a garland of short stories written and javalis collected by Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry. This book, which also contains songs by VAK Ranga Rao, has been edited by well-known classical dancer Dr Yashoda Thakore and published by Samskruthi, Guntur. It was released at Saptaparni Cultural Centre, Hyderabad last Saturday. The event was emceed by Kuchipudi artist Sindhuja along with Bharatanatyam dancer Hari Mangalampalli.
The book is mostly about lyrics and stories in the Shringara rasa. These were sourced and handwritten by the late Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry, a great scholar, author and a polyglot who was reputed to know around 50 languages! VAK Ranga Rao is a renowned music-scholar, film historian, and dance-critic.
These are of the unpublished collected by Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry Garu. Yashoda said to this newspaper, “This gave scope to present a variety of moods depicted in javalis. Each is a different nayika.” Following this, another reputed classical dancer Dr Anupama Kylash presented a javali penned by VAK Rangarao Garu which went, “Manalo manaki ee thagavlaa”, in Raga Kalyani and Aditalam. which is also part of the published book.
The book was then released by musicologist and classical-music-and-dance scholar Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao and the first copy was handed over to Malladi Rajeswara Sastry (grandson of Ramakrishna Sastry). The next few copies were presented to Jayaprabha and Ranga Rao.After this, Malladi Rajeswara Sastry spoke about his grandfather.
Pappu Venugopala Rao’s speech dwelt on javalis and the genre of story writing. He also said that Malladi Ramakrisha Sastry’s stories appealed to readers as they were able to identify with the characters and situations therein. Jayaprabha expressed her views on how the devadasis aka Kalavantulu kept alive the heritage of classical dance and music and yet were scorned by the British who also abolished this institution with a law.
Ranga Rao spoke about his relationship with the legendary Ramakrishna Sastry and praised his scholarship. Later, speaking exclusively to Hyderabad Express, he said: “I am grateful not only to Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry but also to his wife and children. In the mid-60s when I was frittering away my interests in Telugu literature without a proper direction, he gave me a focus and direction.
His son later gave me a notebook in which his father noted down a few javalis directly from a devadasi in his native town of Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh. I was happy when dancer scholar Dr.Yashoda came forward to publish them. I added a few stories by Malladi about devadasis. As an afterthought, I added a few songs I wrote for dance about 40 years ago. And that is how the book Keligopalam happened!” The book is a valuable addition to the bookshelves of educational institutions where classical music and dance are taught as well as dance scholars and practitioners.
Yashoda performed 4 Javalis in the Kalavantula (the Telugu Devadasi) style.
Endukura Kopamu (Hindustani Kapi, Aadi). Music: K. Seshulata
Raayabaarama Mpinaada ( Behag, Chaapu) Music: K. Seahulata
Illerugaka Maari (Surati, Aadi). Music: Traditionally learnt from Kalavantulu ladies
Sokkiyunnavela (Sankarabharanam, Tisram Jaati, Eka). Music: TK. Saroja.