The launch of Ushasri’s ballet in book form was held recently.

The late Ushasri, one of great poets of Andhra, was well known for his discourses of Ramayana and Mahabharata over All India Radio and also at devotional gatherings, in different parts of the state. These discourses, with his stentorian voice, went into compact discs too. He did a lot of work for Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and the latter stood by this programme and granted a lakh of rupees for holding this function and staging the ballet, Venkateswara Kalyanam written by Ushasri long back, in Yakshagana format. This ballet was recently printed into a book form and was released at the function. This was held at Sundaryya Vigjnana Kala Kendram in association with TTD. Eminent Sanskrit scholar Mahamahopadhyaya Prof. Pullela Sriramachandrudu was chosen as the recipient of this year’s award and was warmly felicitated. The content of the Yakshagana was rich and authentic, for Ushasri followed the Sthala Purana.

The ballet was taken up by Kuchipudi guru Uma Rama Rao, featuring her students, in different roles. Uma had already staged some rare Yakshaganas in the recent past. However, she had to condense this three hour ballet just to an hour on this occasion. This popular story of the wedding of Venkateswara with Padmavati opened with the usual Bhrugu Maharshi scene, who kicks the chest of Mahavishnu. The lyrics that occur in this part of the drama like Tagune Ataniki’O Kommalara, Alukelane, Galagala Kooyave Kokila a long song and some others were more were well tuned and sung with good expression. The ballet is then gets fast forward to bring in the character of a ‘sodemma’ athe soothsayer, who predicts to Padmavati her marriage with the one she loved. Burgula Vijayalakshmi as Venkateswara, Madhavimala in two roles of Lakshmi and Erukulasani, Dr.Srikala as Padmavati, Dr.Swarnabala as Bhrugu Maharshi, Soujanya, Anahika, Malavika, Sindhura and others as Padmvati’s friends gave impressive performances. Uma conducted the show to the vocal support of B. S. V. Sastry and Lavanyalatha. Rajagopalachari was on mridangam. The script had a number of rich verses, songs, kandarthas, dwipadas and daruvus of high standards that qualified the show as master piece. Prof. Pullela, who was felicitated later, is well known for his works on epics and also for his contribution to Sanskrit literature.

The function was marked by knowledgeable speech made byAruna Vyas, who spoke of Prof. Pullela as a great poet.C. Raghavachari, a senior journalist and close friend of Ushasri presided over the function.

G.S.