Humanist and humorist

During the inauguration of his dance school, Bharata Choodamani. Photo: Courtesy: V.P. Dhananjayan  

“Adyar Laksh- man used to proudly say that his first award was from Athai (as Rukmani Devi was called by her disciples). She had called him the ‘Pupil Teacher.’ Athai has mentioned this in public in a proudly manner “Look at this boy, he is a born teacher.” She even christened him Pupil teacher.” During his tenure in Kalakshetra, Lakshman took part in all major Dance drama productions and was an inspiration for male students such as Balagopalan and myself.

As a teacher
“In Kalakshetra, Lakshman had the best of students including C.P. Shanta, M.S. Ramadevi, Krishnaveni, P.N. Kumar and Ambika N. He was a disciplined tutor who spared no rod to mould and chisel his wards into superfine dancers. Even the little ones had to sweat it out, no mercy was shown to them whatsoever. But the students loved him for his jokes and pranks.

“After leaving Kalakshetra, he came to be known as ‘Adyar’ Lakshman, an identity that stuck till the end. He joined Vyjayanthimala Bali’s Natyalaya in 1958 and began showing his prowess in choreographing new repertoires for Bharatanatyam. Along with mridangam vidwan Trichur P. Ramanathan, Lakshman brought a new dimension to how teermaanams could be uttered. Whatever he had imbibed from Rukmini Devi, he used that judiciously in helping Vyjayanthimala’s dance dramas. Her ‘Chandalika’ and ‘Tiruppavai’ are testimony to his aesthetic choreographic inputs.

“Some of his varnams are monumental contributions to the existing Bharatanatyam repertoire and with his extraordinary all-round talent, he joined the galaxy of nattuvanars quickly. Apart from Vyjayanthimala and several others known in the field, Adyar K. Lakshman conducted the performances of his own colleague, the doyenne Yamini Krishnamurthy. He even wielded the cymbals for the performance of Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa in the 1970s, besides Kamala, ‘Vennira Adai’ Nirmala, Nirmala Ramachandran and Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar.

Birth of Bharata Choodamani

“After ten years of working for others such as Vyjayanthimala and Sudharani Raghupathi, Lakshman started operating individually giving private tuitions to students such as Anita and Preetha Ratnam. In fact, we did group performances all over the world.

“He decided to start his own academy and that’s how Bharata Choodamani was born in 1969. We continued to help each other with mutual affection and respect. His brother Gopinath and Nagamani Srinivasa Rao continued to work for us for many more years.

“There was a time in the 1970s and 1980s when Lakshman was reigning the field and a galaxy of brilliant disciples came out of his institution. Many of them are continuing his legacy, and his name and fame have reached far and wide. He became a global guru, contributing immensely to the establishment of the Kalakshetra bani all over the world.

“People who knew Lakshman will never forget his sense of humour; he had an amazing collection of funny anecdotes, which would keep all of us in splits. He was a humorist and humanist; a rare combination in a person indeed.

“Several prestigious recognitions came his way. He was a humble soul who wore his laurels lightly. Innumerable frames of citations, plaques, mementoes and scrolls of honour adorn his home in Gandhi Nagar. He is survived by his wife Vasantha Lakshman, daughter Induvadana Malli and sons Krishna Prasad and Baba Prasad. His work will be taken forward by Induvadana and daughter-in-law Deepa Baba Prasad, both dancers, who teach at the Bharatha Choodamani Academy of Fine Arts.

“Adyar Lakshman is no more but his memory will linger on for many years to come. True connoisseurs of the art will miss his immaculate jathis and clean and clear tala.”

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 2:04:15 AM |

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