Sudharani Raghupathy shared memories from her 70-year-long career.
Knock Knock. Who’s There ? Arudra.
We dare not ask the next question - for who is not familiar with the great poet-scholar Dr. Arudra? As Sudharani Raghupathy opened the door on hearing the knock, she was surprised to see 101 parrots – all made out of sugar candy. What a way to express joy after seeing Sudha perform at the Music Academy the previous evening! Arudra had watched Sudha send out parrots in different directions on stage. Such an inspiring performance cannot go unrewarded, he decided.
This was one of the many anecdotes that Sudharani shared with her audience a few days ago, when she was invited by EDGE, a design house run by Bhargavii Mani. Celebrating 70 glorious years of her life, Sudha held her audience spellbound as she took everyone along her journey.
Looking resplendent in a green sari, she began with the ‘Harathi’ song, which she had mimed as a three-year-old. Spotting her talent, she was initiated into dance first by her aunt and later under various gurus – Kaushik, Krishna Rao , Kittappa Pillai and Mylapore Gowri Ammal, who moulded her into the legendary dancer that she is today. She went to mention some memorable moments such as being invited to perform before Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru as a nine-year-old and Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. An equally memorable performance was the one in the UN General Assembly.
She demonstrated with ease and grace the Martha Graham technique she had studied when she went to the U.S for furthering her studies in the areas of dance and stage craft. The adaptation of these techniques into Bharatanatyam won her accolades from the noted critic Subbudu himself.
The audience was witness to some rare moments of artistry like Sudharani’s ability to sing along as she danced. As she demonstrated ‘Aduvum solluval’, she clearly brought out the variations as taught by Gowri Ammal.
As she travelled through her dance journey, she subtly also showed the gradual transformation of her learning process.
One was able to understand the simple miming that she did as a three year old, to a trained young student, finally culminating into a fully blossomed artist. The audience finally understood what Gibran meant when he said, “The soul of a dancer abides in all her body.”
The evening was memorable with the veteran singer, S. Rajeswari accompanying her, ably supported by Sudha’s disciple, Priya Murle.