Arts in Motion: The galaxy of cultural stars to look forward to in 2022
Odissi dancers Vrinda Chadha and Srinika Purohit, Kathak dancer Gauri Diwakar, Bharatanatyam dancer Parshwanath Upadhye, Telangana folk singer Pavani Vasa are among the stars.
Vrinda Chadha , Odissi dancer
Why: Promoting dance education among the youth and using the classical arts to provide emotional literacy to children
“Vrinda’s nritta is known for its rhythm and grace. Her movements are impeccably balanced,” says Prahlad. Chadha holds a master’s degree in Philosophy from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University, and has received the prestigious National Scholarship for Odissi Dance from the Union Ministry of Culture. She has trained under Guru Ranjana Gauhar since she was six and is now a repertoire member and faculty at her eponymous academy. The Odissi exponent has strong social views—she is involved with The Teach for India fellowship by using dance to build emotional literacy in children. Through themed choreographies, she tackles vital contemporary issues. “My first performance spoke about female foeticide. The second was on mental health. The third, on which I will start working soon, will be on children’s right to dream,” says Chadha, who is all set for her upcoming dance performance as part of Colours of India this month in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu. Like other dancers of her generation, she is not bound by tradition alone. She has choreographed a new song titled ‘Bihag’, the third single from Anirudh Varma Collective’s upcoming 2nd album Home Coming.
Skill sets A Visharad Degree in Odissi Dance and Hindustani classical vocals
The most overrated virtue Working hard. You need to work smart.
Greatest fear Having regrets
To all young artists you say Be consistent
Askill you’d like to learn To play the flute
Gauri Diwakar, Kathak dancer
Why: For personalising her message beyond the mythological context of traditional dance compositions
Gauri Diwakar is a modern dancer who uses Kathak’s traditional context to explore contemporary nuances. For example, the lines in her production—‘Hari Ho... Gati Meri’—are taken from Sayyad Mubarak Ali Bilgrami’s verse, whose poems express his love for Krishna. It has more references to Krishna, like in the poetry of Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Malik Muhammad Jayasi and Mian Wahid Ali. The performance was staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Darbar Festival in London, Korzo Festival in the Hague and Milaap Festival in Singapore. Dance doyens see Diwakar going places next year because of his habit of pushing the envelope. The training Diwakar received from her guru Aditi Mangaldas gave her the skill to go beyond Kathak’s grammar to reach a space where the patterns of her movements are charged with an adventurous enquiry. “The honestly with which she taps into a story is admirable,” says Prahlad. Diwakar has her hands (and feet) full putting together a dance workshop from January 4 to 8 with Kala Udyan, in association with Urban Services and Tala Steel CSR, in Jamshedpur. This will be followed by a live performance on the last day. Her upcoming dance production is based on the idea of ‘touch’. “It encapsulates how tactility became forbidden overnight with the onset of Covid,” Diwakar says.
Most proud of Bringing together young minds through the Facebook platform Azadi Mann Ke, to engage in meaningful conversations
Famous mentors Pt Birju Maharaj and his son Jaikishan Maharaj
Current state of mind I feel strong-headed. Also, at ease with myself.
Most treasured possession My ghungroos that I’ve had since childhood
The greatest love of your life Hindi sahitya or poetry
Step by Step
Parshwanath Upadhye, Bharatanatyam dancer
Why: One of the most versatile male Bharatanatyam dancers in India
“2022 will be the Year of the Young. One such powerhouse of talent is Bharatanatyam dancer Parshwanath Upadhye. His movement speaks a vocabulary of purity and he has unfailingly stayed true to his craft, something that’s fading from classical routines,” says acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and founder-director of the Delhi International Arts Festival Pratibha Prahlad. One look at his performance calendar for 2022 and the picture is clear. Mythology is the rich treasure trove for the Indian classical arts. Upadhye raised the curtains on 2022 with Abhä on January 1 at the Soorya Festival in Thiruvananthapuram. The composition explores the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective. Next up is the solo presentation ‘Marga’ on January 4, at Bharat Kalachar Chennai, where he presents traditional compositions of Bharatanatyam. A duet with Yakshagana on January 14 for the Evam Festival (digital) will follow. “The work takes the audience through the journey of Manmatha and Rati—the mind and the heart,” shares Upadhye, who is also preparing for ‘Partha’ on January 23, at Ravindra Kalakshetra in Bengaluru. This one is about the last days of the mighty Arjuna, who analyses why he was denied heaven. On February 4, there is Sam Ved at the 32nd Durga Lal Festival in Mumbai where his solo presentation is called ‘Suta’, the birth of a father. It is an experimental work bringing the elements of Natya Padhati in Bharatanatyam using vachika (dialogues) and portrays the transformation of Himavan from protector of his kingdom to the father of the universal mother. Towards the end of the year, Upadhye hopes to tour the US and Europe with some of his new presentations.
First teacher Mother who choreographed what she saw on TV
First career choice Civil Services
You’d like to be remembered for The man who loved what he did
You’d love to learn more about All Devadasi dancers
Alternate skill A Black Belt in Karate
Dolling up Dance
Divya Hoskere, Bharatanatyam dancer
Why: For blending diametrically opposite art forms, Bharatanatyam and puppetry
“With this interdisciplinary approach, she’s taking her art places. Her work as a lead puppeteer at Dhaatu Puppet Theatre has added to her love for history, research, and theatrics. She combines both to present a wholesome entertainment experience rooted in culture, being liberal in pushing the envelope,” says Savitha Sastry, Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, about Hoskere, a disciple of Guru P Praveen Kumar, under whom she has been learning since age five. The inspiration for puppetry undoubtedly came from her mother Anupama Hoskere, who with her husband Vidyashankar founded the unique puppetry NGO ‘Dhaatu’ in Bengaluru. Dhaatu is the yearly venue of the famous Navratra Mahotsava, the pageant of over 5,000 dolls which represent characters and scenes from Hindu mythology. Divya is currently preparing for the next unique highlight of her career—a first-of-its-kind Bharatanatyam-cum-traditional folk puppetry festival in September-October 2022. She will hold a new performance series referring to the many festivals of India beginning with Maha Shivratri on March 1. “It’s based on the Pradosha Kala, a bimonthly occasion on the 13th day of every fortnight in the Hindu calendar. It’s an auspicious time to worship Shiva, which is one and a half hours before and after the sunset,” shares Hoskere.
Self-healing technique Writing to myself
How to deal with a crisis First panic, and then think objectively. Whatever happens, is for the best.
You get impatient when Two colours don’t match. I am a design student.
It would be a dream to perform in front of? The Nataraja at the Chidambaram Temple, Tamil Nadu
Srinika Purohit, Odissi dancer
Why: A child prodigy who is always seeking the next level
Television is hardly the place for a classical dancer, but 10-year-old Srinika Purohit starred in the fourth episode of BYJU’S Young Genius where she was mentored by classical dancer Dr Mallika Sarabhai. Flashback: December 22, 2013. The closing ceremony of Odissi International featuring dancers and delegates from 15 countries. A woman brings her three-year-old daughter dressed in Odissi attire on the stage. She begins to dance and the audience is spellbound. Srinika from Bengaluru, called the “wonderkid of Odissi”, has continued to perform ever since. The mother is Odissi dancer Sonalika Purohit, who teaches at her own dance school, Ekaagra Svarasa Academy, in the city. With such a guru for a mother, Srinika has performed in countries such as Singapore, Japan and the US. The sign of things to come was evident when she showed mudras with her hands even before she started talking or walking. She pronounced 52 mudras with gestures when she was just two-and-a-half years old.
Debut At age two
Wants also to be Scientist like her mother
Pandemic highlight Practising dance in the park
Dance rival she loves Brother
Dance talk The stage is her playground where she doesn’t have fear while performing
Pavani Vasa , Telangana folk singer
Why: For making rapid strides in Telangana folk music which is still largely untapped
“Versatility is the hallmark of a good artist. I always give special attention to students who can sing anything from Carnatic to folk and pop. Pavani Vasa, who has been learning Carnatic music from me for the last four years, is one such singer. The Telugus love their festivals and Vasa excels at singing festive songs of the folk genre,” says Dr Seshulatha Kosuri, reputed music teacher and senior vocal artiste in Hyderabad. Vasa, the 29-year-old singer who hails from Vizianagaram and currently lives in Hyderabad, debuted on YouTube in 2017 with movie song mashups. In the last three years, she has consistently sung for Bathukamma, Telangana’s most popular floral festival, which is celebrated during the Navratris. “Telangana folk songs can make or break your career,” says Kosuri. Vasa has done good work in the last three years—Chukka Podduna in 2021, Bangaru Bathukamma in 2020 and Dussehra 2019 fusion of Ashtadasa Shaktipeeta Stotram in 2019. “I felt accomplished that I could compose three independent songs for my YouTube channel. My best musical outing was in November 2020 when I released ‘Choope Vethike’ that has original lyrics, music and vocals.” 2021’s biggest musical hits (‘Bullettu Bandi’ by Mohana Bhogaraju or ‘Saranga Dariya’ by Mangli) are folk songs by her. “I am going to do something exciting in 2022 about which I cannot talk now. Stay tuned,” she teases.
Lockdown lesson Reinvent or perish
Advice for aspirants Versatility always pays
Worst mistake of a musician Basking on past glory
Must-have personality trait Take professional criticism in your stride
Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra , Hindustani vocalist duo
Why: The first brothers of Indian classical music
Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra were the inimitable brothers of Indian classical music who sung as one for 57 years, following a 350-year-old tradition of music. Now it is left to the sons of the late Pandit Rajan Mishra to take the bequeathal forward. As members of a large joint family living together in one house and eating food cooked in one kitchen, bonding comes easy. “The brothers bring alive the stage giving a different aspect to each raga. They have not let a great personal loss (lost their father to Covid) affect their music,” says Dhrupad exponent Wasifuddin Dagar. Known for their perfect synchronisation, the brothers are carrying forward the legacy of the Banaras Gharana. “When we perform together, our audiences get two variants of the same raga. He is my musical better half,” says Ritesh, while Rajnish adds, “People accept us because we complement each other so well.” The sixth-generation vocalists are skilled in khayal gayaki. They were awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar. They have expanded to the global gharana—their track ‘Mahadeva’ in the album Rise was nominated for the prestigious Grammy awards. In the next two months, they will be performing
in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Pune and Kullu. The Mishra brothers will also be on stage at the Dover Lane Music Festival in Kolkata towards the end of this month.
Food you avoid Pickles
Advice for youngsters Have patience and be polite
Favourite leisure activity Watching children’s films
Pandemic musings Don’t be selfish, care for everyone
Your favourite quote to your students Jo ruk sakta hai aur jo jhuk sakta hai, wohi sangeet seekh sakta hai (Only those who can stop and bend can learn music)
If not home food Machher jhol and Calcutta mutton cutlets
Lockdown learning Pay more attention to hygiene
If not a vocalist Badminton player
Favourite musician outside the family Ustad Rashid Khan
Thoughts before stepppping on the stage Perform as if it’s the last concert of your life
Worst fear Bad health before a live performance
Two in One
Sudha Raghuraman,Carnatic vocalist
Why: Multiple skills in the genre
Born in a family of musicians, Sudha Raghuraman was trained by her late father OS Sridhar and her grandfather Sangeetha Bhushanam OV Subramanyam. Well-known Carnatic vocalists OS Thiagarajan and OS Arun are her uncles. Her husband G Raghuraman is a flautist. A rare traditionalist who composes the music for dance recitals, the message of Sudha’s music is the inevitability of the karmic cycle that indicates that the performance is the tabula rasa where art is born, lives and dies. “She has all the right elements to take the genre forward. Combining traditional music with dance recitals makes her unique in the field,” says Dhrupad exponent Wasifuddin Dagar. Sudha perceives music as both interpretation and collaboration that transcends the rules of the oeuvre—an example was the joint performance at the National Gallery of Modern Art with Hindustani classical vocalist Subhadra Desai, which translated into music, a neo tantric painting by Biren De just before the pandemic. Recently, the Sangeet Natak Akademi bestowed on her the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Puraskar. “I am starting the year with a performance in Varanasi, after which more are lined up in Kerala and Pune,” says the 44-year-old artist who is also a visiting professor at Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana.
If not a musician A mathematician
Lockdown learning New recipes and learning to record music at home
Personality trait every artist should possess Magnanimity
Guilty pleasure Ice-creams
Life’s mantra Hard work, discipline, peace
Murad Ali Khan, Sarangi maestro
Why: Collaborative artist who navigates between classical and popular music to create contemporary music
Sarangi maestro Murad Ali Khan symbolises the best of contemporary classical music, a union of the East and the West. Along with his twin brother Fateh Ali Khan on the sitar, they represent the Muradabad Gharana and their two bands ‘Soul Samvad’ and ‘Essence’—the former fuses Indian classical with western and the latter combines classical music, Kathak and storytelling. In a field where sarangi players rarely get solos, Murad has no such problems, having performed alone at Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in Pune and Vishnu Digambar Jayanti in Delhi. Like many successful musicians, he is also a sixth-generation sarangi dynast who stuck to the family legacy. Murad counts among his blessings learning music on the very instrument that belonged to his grandfather, the legendary Ustad Siddique Ahmad Khan and later, his father Ustad Ghulam Sabir Khan. Murad’s adaptable sensibility is a reason he is in demand with music studio directors—his fusion is firmly raga-based. He is deeply involved in collaborative music and is a member of Purbayan Chatterjee's band Shastriya Syndicate.
Advice If you want to advance as a Hindustani musician, you have to go through a period of uncompromised talim
Memorable crossover moment Conceiving the idea for a cross-cultural concert with French composer and guitarist Titi Robin and Rajasthani folk dancer Gulabo Sapera, classical Kathak danseuse Mahua Shankar, vocalist Shuheb Hasan, percussionist Dino Banjara and tabla player Amaan Ali Khan
Would hate Music directors correcting him during studio recordings
Adores Shubha Mudgal who made him part of her ‘Ab Ke Sawan’
Favourite accessory Diamond stud in his ear
Moment of pride Brother Fateh performing with Lady Gaga
AbhinavAvasarala,Carnatic music exponent
Why: Expert in ragas and their interpretations and renders complex compositions and their meanings
“Any musician who can delve deep into music will rise. I am not surprised at Abhinav’s accomplishments in the last three years in Carnatic music,” says Dr Seshulatha Kosuru, Abhinav Avasarala’s guru for four years. Avasarala was feted for being one of the top three finalists of ‘Palikeda Bhagavathamu’, an intense music workshop and reality show by Keerthana Academy, Hyderabad, in 2019. “At 16, he could enunciate and decipher every word of the Bhagavatha at the event and it’s a feat in Carnatic,” Kosuru adds. This 11th grader from DPS Hyderabad received his first endorsement from legendary playback singer late SP Balasubramaniam in 2016 at Houston, Texas, US. “Participants were asked to upload songs on the ‘SPB50 years’ Facebook page. I bagged the first prize for the most liked song. Balu garu’s blessing got me so far,” says Avasarala. He calls his three gurus, including Satya Kumari and Ambika Ramasubrahmanyam who taught him Carnatic music, the ‘dream trio’. Avasarala’s foray into classical music began as a summer project at Swaratmika School of Music in Omaha, US, in 2018. However, he is thrilled about the most recent victory. “In October 2021, I stood fourth in the Telugu Club Idol online singing contest. It was for people aged above 18, but they gave me an exemption based on my performance. I also won the cash prize,” he laughs. Avasarala is currently busy watching the Madras Music Academy’s Marghazi 2021 concert series online and signing a new project, the details of which will be announced soon.
Lockdown lesson Leverage technology and social media to popularise music
Advice for aspirants Work on your strengths
Worst mistake of a musician Complacence
Must-have personality trait Willingness to learn
Sakti Burman, Artist, painter, sculptor, and lithographer
Why: A global art legend and most in-demand at auctions
Recipient of the Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2016 from the French government for his extraordinary work, Paris-based artist Sakti Burman’s works go for the highest bids even today. “He is a legend and it’s time we collect his creations for posterity,” says Sunaina Anand, Director, Art Alive Gallery, Delhi. Burman, 88, is back in India this month for a three-artist show with his wife Maite Delteil and daughter Maya Burman—‘Life is a Theatre’. All artists are storytellers who paint their memories, but unlike most Indian artists, it isn’t Hindu mythology that inspires Burman; it is Pompeii that perished under volcanic ash. Virgil and Cicero are reference points as he navigates the relationship between history, literature and art. Burman seeks the elusive line that connects opposites, and his figures represent both grief and hope. “Sakti Burman has created an exclusive market for his works and he shows no signs of slowing down,” concludes Anand.
Moved by Roman frescoes
Admired Jawaharlal Nehru’s handwriting. When Burman was a child he drew Nehru’s portrait which then freedom fighter signed when he visited Dibrugarh.
First wow: Frescoes of artists Giotto, Pierodella Francesca and Simone Martini
Is fascinated by Clowns whose sadness is barely hidden under face paint
Portrayer of Impermanence
Chandan Roy, Sculptor and miniature artist
Why: Known for live, sustainable, customised art installations and sculptures using used matchsticks, chopsticks etc
Chandan Roy’s work is a narrative of external events which he personalises and converts into metaphors and stories. Says Atiya Amjad, senior art critic and curator at Hyderabad’s Daira Centre for Arts and Culture, “The genre of sculpture has gone through a massive transformation. The traditional methodology of placing a three-dimensional object on a pedestal has evolved into many other categories of looking into this specific genre. Installations, assemblages, performances and the involvement of cybernetics have altered a lot of what is happening now in the field of fine arts. Roy’s works fall into this innovative category. He is an artist Indian art lovers should look out for.” Roy uses matchsticks, ice-cream sticks and chopsticks to create showstopper miniature art. His work in 2021, ‘Into The Babble’, interprets the memory of a water world cityscape. Roy’s installations created with natural and found objects like ash, wood, stones, sticks, leaves and plants represent transience, change, decay and mortality. His works are not something he can pack and send to the venue through courier. “I do live art and I need anywhere between three days and a week to put together a work like ‘Into The Babble’,” he says. This 33-year-old Bengali artist settled in Hyderabad garnered attention when his matchstick installation went on display at the Salarjung Museum in 2015. The concept was environment and us. His works were recently exhibited at the 2020 Group Exhibition at the State art gallery, Hyderabad.
Lockdown lesson Keep calm and let the bad times fade
Advice for aspirants Let art come straight out of your heart
Worst mistake of an artist Plagiarism
Must-have personalality trait Be curious
Why: Restoration and art through responsible advocacy of progress
Natural formations and geological patterns are Patpatia’s muse. “She takes you back to the old organic way of life; her work is a breath of fresh air; she has been working on rice paper and her works explore the evolution of mankind,” are the opinions of prominent art curators. Her studies in art restoration and old manuscripts enhanced her bond with handmade paper and black ink, to create tiers of terrain using layers of fragile translucent paper. She takes a stand, albeit gently on the ‘flee or adapt’ ultimatum of Nature, where through the fecund geography of her imagination, fantasy meets reality, is inspired by Persian mythology, the flight of birds, the journeys of sea turtles and moonlight and the transience of life. A post-graduate in Museology and Conservation Studies, Patpatia has studied art-based therapy. Her solo exhibition in Mumbai in October 2020 received widespread critical acclaim. “Afterwards I participated in a group show curated by Ranjit Hoskote in Delhi. This year, I will be showing at the India Art Fair, Delhi, in February. Then there are exhibitions planned in Hyderabad and Mumbai,” Patpatia reveals. She is a recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant Award from Montreal, Canada, in 2021 and the Khoj Support Grant from Khoj International Artists Association, Delhi, in 2020.
Inspiration Mythology and environment
Lockdown lesson To introspect and seek inspiration within
Advice for art aspirants Have patience
Worst mistake of a painter Copycats lose identity
Must-have personalality trait Being perceptive and having empathy
Ramavath Srinivas Nayak, Banjara tribal art specialist
Why: Has an exhaustive oeuvre of Banjara tribal art
“Not many know that the Banjara tribals of Telangana were among the first to revolt against British rule and protest against Western garments. I want to reinstate that glory through my paintings. The tribals need to be celebrated not just for their beauty or their clothes, but their sense of adventure and bravery,” says Telangana artist Ramavath Srinivas Nayak. Kappari Kishan—a contemporary artist who is on the art faculty of Nehru Bal Bhavan, Hyderabad—has good things to say about Nayak. “Today, if stunning portraits of Telangana’s Banjara tribal women adorn the walls of corporate offices and resorts, the credit goes to Nayak. He has been tirelessly depicting the Banjara tribes through his work and giving them new dignity,” says Kishan. Nayak is the son of a municipality garbage picker and worked hard to be among the top artists of Hyderabad. With time, Nayak has reinvented himself to embrace cubism. “The Banjaras have chiselled features and when I use the cubism approach to their portraits, the effect is enhanced. For example, the Banjaras wear lots of mirror-work jewellery. Cubism uses geometric lines to create deep 3D effects which accentuate the highlights,” he says. He has done over 500 paintings in 20 years of work. An artist who specialises in canvas and acrylic, water and oil paints, Nayak says Covid-19 and a few personal commitments slowed him down, but he is now looking forward to the Singapore Online Group Show in 2022.
Lockdown lesson One wrong move sets you back by a decade
Advice for aspirants Find your groove
Worst mistake of an artist Lack of innovation
Must-have personalality trait Being a passionate storyteller
Prophet of Emptiness
D Dhasan, Painter
Why: Promoting ideology of balance in turbulent times
D Dhasan’s artistic visions arise from his intention to communicate the unseen energy of the universe. He believes in the power of emptiness as a vast wellspring of images—Shunya, the pre-alpha space where the silence before sound and the zero before numbers are the original powers that
climax in the omega of human action. “The sensibility of Dhasan’s art is tranquillity since he tries to communicate a healing silence to calm the violence of the present age,” says Sharan Apparao of Apparao Galleries about this interpreter of pregnant tranquillity, adding, “His art has the potential to reach new heights this year. He presents metaphorical concepts with impeccable clarity.” Says Chennai-based Dhasan: “I have never thought of being anything other than a painter.” His next big show is at India Art Fair, 2022, in Delhi.
Art is Everything around you
If not a painter, then Clueless
Pandemic musings Plant more trees
Favourite artists K Madhavan and R Natrajan
Goalals for 2022 Be more creative
Names chosen by: Sunaina Anand, Director, Art Alive Gallery, Delhi; Sharan Apparao, Founder, Apparao Galleries; Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, Dhrupad vocalist; Dr Seshulatha Kosuri, Music Faculty, Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad; Kappari Kishan, contemporary Telangana artist and Art Faculty, Nehru Bal Bhavan, Hyderabad; Atiya Amjad, Art Critic and Curator of Daira Centre for Arts and Culture, Hyderabad; Pratibha Prahlad, Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, Artistic Director at Prasiddha Dance Repertory, Founder-Director of Delhi International Arts Festival, Delhi; Savitha Sastry, Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer
Contributed by Ayesha Singh, Smitha Verma and Manju Latha Kalanidhi