CHENNAI: Kum Kum Mohanty does not give much thought to awards – she constantly receives accolades for her performances worldwide. Yet last Friday, the noted Odissi dancer waited eagerly to be felicitated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. “Receiving the award from Jayalalithaa is special for me,” says Mohanty, the winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contributions to Odissi in 1994.
Stressing the need to promote art and culture in both states, she says that she is just waiting for the right moment to train dancers in Chennai as well. “If I am invited to train dancers here, I will surely take up the opportunity.” Mohanty loves the arts and culture of Tamil Nadu. “The art of temple sculptures begins in southern India and ends in Orissa,” she points out, highlighting the strong cultural links between both the states.
According to the president of the Utkal Association of Madras Khrirod Kumar Jena, from the time of Rajaraja Chola, the great Chola king, cultural relations between the two ancient states have been strong.
“Even in building modern India, former chief minister of Odisha, Biju Patnaik, worked hand in hand with leaders from Tamil Nadu such as M G Ramachandran, C N Annadurai and Kamaraj,” he recalls.
Sudarshan Patnaik, the founder of Sudarsan Sand Art Institute, who was also honoured by the TN Chief Minister, says the time is ripe for a cultural renaissance in both the states. “Both TN and Odisha chief ministers love traditional art forms. The opening of the Orissa Bhavan will boost cultural ties.”
Sudarshan, who made a sand sculpture of Jayalalithaa on her 64th birthday, even hopes to set up a sand art institute in Chennai. “I will be requesting the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to help provide a piece of land near the shore to set up a Sand Art Institute in Chennai as the art is now being practiced at an international level,” he adds.
It is not only artistes from Odisha who are suggesting the two states collaborate culturally. Noted playback singer Vani Jairam, three-time National Award winner for Best Female Playback Singer, took a walk down memory lane recalling the hundred-odd songs she sang in Oriya for All India Radio. She was honoured by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday, and stressed the need for Tamil and Oriya artistes to maintain strong ties.