Movva, birthplace of 17th century composer Kshetrayya, needs urgent attention.
The bus took a leisurely course down the road from Vijayawada to Movva. The small village is the birthplace of the great 17th century composer Kshetrayya whose exquisite compositions — known as padams – are a treasured part of the repertoires of Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music.
Many veteran gurus of these art forms believe that rendering a Kshetrayya padam to perfection –– in classical dance and music – is one of the surest tests of an artiste’s calibre. These Telugu compositions are rich in shringara or bhakti rasas and have a languorous pace. Calling for bhava-laden exposition and great breath control, they pose quite a challenge to students and performers.
Movva is situated in a culturally rich region of Andhra Pradesh. Almost next door is Kuchipudi village where the eponymous classical dance form is being nurtured for centuries. About two hours away is Kaza, the birthplace of the famous composer Narayana Teertha.
We entered Movva, eagerly looking for a memorial or anything related to Kshetrayya. We came upon a clean, well-maintained temple dedicated to Kshetrayya’s favourite deity, the one who inspired his creations, Lord Krishna. It is called Muvvavenugopala temple and the presiding deity is flanked by his consorts. Behind the sanctum-sanctorum is a small statue of Kshetrayya standing in front of an idol of Krishna.
One wall of this temple sports the words of four Kshetrayya padams — Yentha Chakkanivaade Na Swami, Avunamma Meekemi, Rammanave Samukhaana Rayabaaramulele, and Apuroopa Darsnambaayegada Nedu. Beside the temple are a Kshetrayya Kalyana Mandapam and a Kshetrayya Pada Paathasala, both fronted by a lifesize statue of Kshetrayya.
Aside from this, there is nothing by way of a memorial or even the semblance of a museum. We learnt that Telugu University had begun certificate and diploma courses in Kshetrayya padams in Movva in 2008 and also received support for this from local art lover Mandava Janakiramaiah. However, few students showed interest. During the annual Kalyanotsavam of the Muvvavenugopala temple, a few dance and music performances are held. “It would be good to expand this festival and make it a large-scale one,” feels Vedantam Ramalinga Sastry, a dancer, teacher, choreographer and Principal of Siddhendra Yogi Kuchipudi Kala Peetham.
Sleepy Movva may be far from developing into the cultural hub it deserves to. However, its proximity to Kuchipudi helps a little. Pasumarthy Kesava Prasad, a teacher, choreographer and performer based in Kuchipudi told us that most visitors especially artistes who visit Kuchipudi also make a trip to Movva.
Many artistes across south India feel that Movva ought to receive more attention from the state government as also art-patrons with resources. A museum dedicated to Kshetrayya’s life and works, and a library with books on him and his compositions as well as audio-records and videos of his padams as rendered by doyens of classical music and dance are needed. This would be a fitting tribute to the man who so greatly enriched south-Indian classical arts.