Sangeet Natak Akademi awards mark a milestone in artistes’ lives

Here’s the list of people chosen from the fields of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam for the honour.

March 12, 2024 05:02 pm | Updated March 14, 2024 04:16 pm IST

Veena exponent Jayanthi Kumaresh.

Veena exponent Jayanthi Kumaresh. | Photo Credit: K.V. SRINIVASAN

“Appreciation can make a day — even change a life,” wrote Margaret Cousins. Every award is a milestone as it spurs you to do better. More so, if it is a national award given by an apex body in the field of performing arts like the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA). From the 1950s, the SNA has been working towards the preservation and promotion of the vast intangible heritage of India’s diverse culture expressed in forms of music, dance and drama.

Since 1952, when the awards began to be conferred, the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) annually chooses artistes for the Akademi Ratna or Fellowship, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar and the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar (named after the late shehnai maestro).

Maharajapuram Ramachandran.

Maharajapuram Ramachandran. | Photo Credit: K.V. SRINIVASAN

The Fellowship of the Akademi is a rare honour. Veteran artistes upon whom it will be conferred for 2022-23 are Vinayak Khedekar (renowned folklorist from Goa, who has made significant contributions to the preservation and promotion of Goa’s rich heritage); R. Visweswaran (Bengaluru-based Carnatic veena virtuoso and musicologist); Sunayana Hazarilal (Kathak exponent and guru); Raja & Radha Reddy (Delhi-based renowned Kuchipudi duo); Dulal Roy (actor, director, playwright and resource person) and Daya Prakash Sinha (stalwart playwright and arts administrator).

From India’s large and diverse culture arc, 92 artists were honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the years 2022 and 2023, from the fields of music, dance, theatre, traditional folk, tribal music, dance, theatre, puppetry and overall contribution/scholarship in the performing arts.

Prameela Gurumurthy.

Prameela Gurumurthy. | Photo Credit: K.V.SRINIVASAN

The honour of Akademi Fellow carries a purse money of three lakh rupees, while the Akademi Award carries a purse money of one lakh, besides a tamrapatra and angavastram. The Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Puraskars were conferred by the President of India Droupadi Murmu, in a special investiture ceremony on March 6, 2024 at Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi.

K. Gayatri.

K. Gayatri. | Photo Credit: R. RAGU

The Sangeet Natak Akademi Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar was instituted as an annual award in 2006. Eighty young artists have been selected to receive this award for the years 2022 and 2023. This carries a purse money of 25,000 rupees, a tamrapatra and angavastram. These awards will be conferred by the chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi at a special ceremony.

Ramakrishnan Murthy.

Ramakrishnan Murthy. | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

As the list for all the awards is long, the focus here is on the awardees in the genres of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam, alongwith a few awardees from different genres who belong to Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Bombay Jayashri Ramnath.

Bombay Jayashri Ramnath.

SNA Puraskar (Award) 2022

Maharajapuram Ramachandran is a senior Carnatic vocalist, who served as faculty at Annamalai University, Chidambaram, and belongs to the Maharajapuram musical legacy.

Manda Sudharani -- Carnatic vocalist known for her expertise in presenting complex pallavis and dwitala avadhanam (rendering two different talas simultaneously with both hands).

Vainika Jayanthi Kumaresh – sixth generation musician in the illustrious Lalgudi family, a passionate propagator and global ambassador of the Saraswati Veena.

Vinukonda Subrahmanyam – distinguished thavil artiste at the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.

Manjula Ramaswamy – Bharatanatyam artiste hailing from Thanjavur, daughter and disciple of Bharatanatyam exponent V.S. Ramamoorthy, and director of Shri Ram Nataka Niketan in Hyderabad.

A. Susairaj – Puducherry-based renowned director and actor.

Prameela Gurumurthy – a classical vocalist and musicologist. Also trained in Hindustani music, she is Harikatha exponent, writer and arts administrator. She served as chairperson of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Madras and later as the Vice-Chancellor of the Dr. J. Jayalalithaa Music and Fine Arts University, Chennai.

SNA Puraskar 2023

Bombay Jayashri Ramnath – Carnatic vocalist and versatile musician with a global reach.

Shankar Sastry – Karnataka-based Carnatic vocalist and author of many books on Carnatic music and compositions with notations.

Neyveli Narayanan.

Neyveli Narayanan. | Photo Credit: M. SRINATH

Neyveli R. Narayanan — a mridangam artiste hailing from the illustrious Thanjavur School of Mridangam.

H.K. Venkataram — a senior Carnatic violinist, he is the son and disciple of Vidwan H.V. Krishnamurthy. He has performed extensively both solo and as an accompanist and participated in jugalbandi concerts with stalwarts of Hindustani music.

Urmila Sathyanarayanan.

Urmila Sathyanarayanan. | Photo Credit: K.V. SRINIVASAN

Urmila Sathyanarayanan — a renowned Bharatanatyam exponent, teacher and choreographer. After her initiation in Bharatanatyam at Saraswathi Gana Nilayam in Chennai, she trained with eminent natyacharyas K.N. Dandayudhapani Pillai and K.J. Sarasa. She is the artistic director of Natya Sankalpaa.

Nirupama Rajendra and T.D. Rajendra — the Bengaluru-based popular dancing duo bag the award for Creative and Experimental dance. Trained in Kathak, Bharatanatyam, and other forms, the founders of Abhinava Dance Company, excel as dancers, choreographers, producers, and directors.

K. Palanivel — a master practitioner of the traditional Indian martial art form of Silambam, he has dedicated himself to preserving and promoting it by passing on his expertise to the younger generation. Based in Puducherry, he learnt Silambam from Master Rajaram.

SNA’s Yuva Puraskar 2022-23

The recipients of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar (age limit 40 years) for 2022:

K. Gayatri: Carnatic vocalist with a penchant for laya intricacies, she is the senior disciple of vidushi Suguna Purushothaman.

Sweta Prasad: Carnatic vocalist currently training under vidushi Pantula Rama, also sings for classical dance and composes music for dance-dramas.

S.V. Sahana: A veena artiste, she is a disciple of vidwan M.J. Srinivasa Iyengar, and maestros T.N. Seshagopalan and T.V. Gopalakrishnan. She holds a doctorate in music from the University of Mysore.

Mandakranta Roy: The Tripura-based dancer is a student of Prof. C.V. Chandrasekar.

Anuthama Murali: A Carnatic violinist, she had her initial music training in Mumbai, and is currently being trained by vidushi A. Kanyakumari and vidwan N. Vijay Siva.

B. Ananthakrishnan: A well-known violinist.

SNA’s Yuva Puraskar 2023

S.R. Vinay Sharva — Karnataka-based Carnatic vocalist, trained by his mother N. Jayashree, Bangalore S. Shankar, and vidwan Nedunuri Krishnamurthy.

Ramakrishna Murthy — popular Carnatic vocalist, disciple of Delhi P. Sunderrajan, and now currently training with vidwan R.K. Shriramkumar.

Akshay Anantapadmanabhan.

Akshay Anantapadmanabhan.

Akshay Anantapadmanabhan – A well-known mridangam artiste.

Apoorva Jayaraman.

Apoorva Jayaraman. | Photo Credit: M. KARUNAKARAN

Apoorva Jayaraman — Bharatanatyam dance and a disciple of Priyadarsini Govind.

M. Prakash — Puducherry-based folk dancer.

Venkateshwaran Kuppuswamy — receives the award for Music for Dance. A Delhi-based Carnatic musician, he receives the award for Music for Dance.

It is interesting to note that most of the Yuva Puraskar awardees have chosen to be full-time performing artistes and many of them are already being featured by sabhas in the evening slots for seniors.

The senior awardees described the moment as one of joy and pride combined with a sense of gratitude to their parents, gurus, co-artistes, students and rasikas .

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