“When I was learning dance, I was left to fend for myself. I plan and take care of everything so that the load is off her shoulders. My life revolved around dance and there was nothing beyond it. Today’s youngsters are passionate but also believe in multi-tasking. They have their own way of doing things.”
Plot No. 45 at Railway Colony in Sikh Village, Secunderabad strikes a cheerful note each time one passes by. “We crack silly jokes and often have these laughing sessions to spread the happiness around,” shares dancer Rajeswari Sainath as her daughter Vyshnavie gives the perfect pose during the photo session. “I am trying to stand still so that I do not sneeze,” she says as the young Vyshnavie tries to distract her mother’s attention with a ‘say cheese’ smile. The most striking feature about this young dancer is her eyes. With rhythmic blinking of her eyes, she conveys a thousand emotions and even when she pauses to think, her silence becomes powerfully eloquent.
It is two days before Vyshnavie’s Bharatanatyam and Odissi performances and an anxious Rajeswari is in the midst of last-minute preparations. (The youngster gave an enchanting performance later at Ravindra Bharathi and wowed critics and audiences alike). “I have cold and fever and I hope I do not fall sick before Vyshnavie’s big day. I am keeping track of so many things that the days have become very busy. I have never felt so nervous even before my performances,” says Rajeswari as she makes herself comfortable. As a smiling Vyshnavie sits next to her, we look for similarities between them. There are, but they are distinctly different.
“When I was learning dance, I was left to fend for myself. I plan and take care of everything so that the load is off her shoulders. My life revolved around dance and there was nothing beyond it. Today’s youngsters are passionate but also believe in multi-tasking. They have their own way of doing things,” says Rajeswari.
Dance forms a keynote of Vyshnavie’s life but the St. Francis College student is bindaas in her attitude. “When she was just one-year-old, she would dance thaiyumm tha tha and tumble,” laughs Rajeswari as Vyshnavie smiles sheepishly. Rajeswari continues, “I am strict with her as a guru. Before she gave her aarengetram, her father would come to the class and ask me not to scold Vyshnavie or hit her.” Vyshnavie chips in: “She would never show any partiality towards me. And, among all her disciples in the class, she would hit only me with a nattuvangam stick, if I got the steps wrong.”
Reasons Rajeswari, “Gurus have to be strict even harsh sometimes with their disciples. My guru Kaaraikkudi Mani still takes me to task and even when my performances are appreciated, he just gives a tap on my shoulder. Vyshnavie’s Odissi guru is also a hard taskmaster. Dance is divine and one needs to practice relentlessly to achieve perfection,” she says.
Rajeswari spent her college life in Hyderabad studying law in Osmania University and occasionally going to the Chinese restaurant Nanking to eat. “I would rarely go out with friends as I could never keep my mind off dance,” she says. Vyshnavie on the other hand, loves to hangout with her college friends. “She wanted to go to Ramoji Film City as all her friends were going but she had a concert in Chennai and I didn’t want her to be stressed out. We did not allow her to go and as a mother I felt very bad. I spoke to her and made her understand that one needs to sacrifice little things to achieve bigger goals in life,” says Rajeswari.
When not dancing, the mother and daughter love to shop. Rajeswari has a fetish for Kanjeevaram saris and purses and Vyshnavie is crazy about ear-rings and enjoys chocolates. “Vyshnavie played a little Krishna when she was three years old. She refused to come on to the stage and we had to bribe her with a chocolate,” recalls Rajeswari.
Vyshnavie has happy memories of their outings. “Once we took an amusement ride and amma was scared to death.
While we were screaming and having fun, she was so nervous that she was chanting slokas and even singing a tillana,” she laughs.
Rajeswari is deeply religious and believes everything happens for a reason in life. “I have been brought up like that and whatever I am today I owe everything to God and my gurus,” she says humbly.
From doing milk abhiskehams to the small Ganesha temple in her house to performing pujas, she performs all the rituals. Besides sharing their passion for dance, the mother and daughter also share their birthday on July 13.
“Her father makes sure that there are two cakes to be cut and celebrations continue for a long time,” says Rajeswari, whose memorable birthday was in Sweden, when the audience sang ‘Happy Birthday’ after Rajeswari and Vyshnavie gave a joint performance.
Rajeswari’s world revolves around dance and she does not have many interests. “She neither has a flair for cooking or eating,” jokes Vyshnavie, who loves food especially dishes cooked by her father.
Fit and fine
Rajeswari is 40-plus but can compete with any youngster when it comes to fitness. She follows a strict schedule by waking up at 4 a.m., everyday and hitting the second floor of the house which has the gym room. Her regimen includes doing abdomen and breathing exercises and yoga. Dancing is not just her passion but also keeps her fit and fine.