June 22, 2021

The bond between Annamayya and Kuchipudi

The lyrical magnificence and big selection of Annamayya’s compositions supply immense choreographic potentialities

In 1922, in an epochal discovery, 2,500 copper plates had been present in a secret chamber reverse the hundi contained in the temple in Tirupati. These copper plates that enshrined songs composed by Tallapaka Annamacharya had remained mysteriously hidden away from the world for practically 400 years. It’s stated {that a} succinct point out of those compositions in a guide by a nineteenth century Englishman, Alexander Duncan Campbell, A Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, led to a devoted search and the huge corpus of compositions, generally known as Sankeertanas, lastly got here to gentle.

The extensively accepted variety of keertanas penned by Annamayya is 32,000! Nonetheless, solely about 13,000 have been recovered within the type of copper plates. This determine, by itself, is formidable. The fascinating truth, nonetheless, is that though his identify remained obscure for hundreds of years, a few of his compositions had been in use regardless of their author being unknown — the lullaby ‘Jo achutananda’ is an instance.

Born in Tallapaka, a village in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh on Could 22, 1408, Annamacharya is commonly hailed because the progenitor of the Telugu pada kavita format of writing, a style unprecedented in his time. Effectively deserving of the Telugu epithet, Pada Kavita Pitamaha, it was he who set the requirements for latter-day vaggeyakaras reminiscent of Tyagayya and others. The components of a pallavi and three charanams was his invention, and continues to be fashionable.

Out of anonymity

To Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the belief that manages the affairs of the temple, goes the credit score of pulling Annamayya out of 4 centuries of anonymity. Within the Fifties, doyens like Veturi Anandmurthy, scholar and littérateur, and Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, thought of a modern-day vaggeyakara, had been roped in to set these compositions to tune and popularise them. Over time, different musicians additionally threw of their may and tuned Annamayya compositions, chief amongst them had been Rallapalli Ananta Krishna Sharma, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Garimella Balakrishna Prasad and Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao. These songs have remained etched within the musical consciousness, and most of them have been tailored to Kuchipudi. Among the many songs that made their approach into the world of dance are ‘Alarulu kuriyaga’, ‘Adigo alladigo’, ‘Mudugare Yashoda’, ‘Narayanate namo namo’, ‘Paluku tenela talli’, ‘Cheri Yashoda ku’ and ‘Brahmam okkate’.

The motion gained a definitive thrust in 1978 below the stewardship of Annamayya scholar Kamishetty Srinivasulu. TTD launched the Annamayya Mission to carry the composer’s works to gentle. The undertaking led to HMV releasing a slew of LP information with the redoubtable M.S. Subbulakshmi singing Annamayya compositions.

Good medium

This was additionally the start of one other stunning relationship — between Annamayya and Kuchipudi. Kamishetty Srinivasulu commissioned Vempati Chinna Satyam to choreograph 5 songs to popularise the composer’s works, realising that dance was the proper medium to perform this. Whereas Shobha Naidu danced Guru Vempati’s choreographies, Uma Rama Rao, one of many earliest feminine Kuchipudi gurus, choreographed a solo manufacturing, ‘Annamayya Katha’, on the lifetime of the composer, which was carried out by her prime scholar, Alekhya Punjala.

A number of different Annamayya songs that had already gained recognition had been painstakingly choreographed and offered in small cities and villages over months, as a promotional tour. “We took nice care in each selecting and choreographing the songs. If sringara rasa was predominant in some songs, others spoke of sharanagati (give up) and others had philosophical overtones,” remembers Alekhya. She additional provides that the compositions had been so various in theme and content material that they made them preferrred for dance, citing the instance of a melukolupu, ‘Meluko sringara raya, meti Madana Gopala’ or a sringara padam, ‘Emuko chigurutadharamuna’ or a extremely philosophical track like ‘Nanati batuku natakamu’.

The proper marriage of Annamayya’s compositions and Kuchipudi owes its success to the truth that Telugu lends itself effortlessly to the dance. As dancer and Annamayya scholar Anupama Kylash explains, “Annamayya was such a genius that his writing encapsulated complicated concepts in descriptive phrases, usually using the vernacular to attach with the widespread man. This adroit use of language and concepts supply immense choreographic potentialities to the dancer.”

G.B. Sankar Rao

Actually, G.B. Sankar Rao, analysis scholar on Annamacharya literature, even means that Kuchipudi’s fashionable operatic ‘Bhama Kalapam’ might have been influenced by Annamayya’s Desi Suladi, which relies on goddess Alamelu Manga, however is similar to ‘Bhama Kalapam’ in remedy. The portrayal of Satyabhama with all her quirks is peculiar to the Telugu storytelling custom, not present in any puranic textual content. For instance, Satyabhama hitting Krishna along with her braid is talked about in Annamayya’s work too. One might thus infer that Kuchipudi has been enriched by Annamayya in additional methods than one, being a part of one seamless desi sampradaya of spreading Krishna tatva throughout ages.

Kuchipudi’s affiliation with Annamayya continues to develop stronger as scholar-dancers like Anupama discover his lesser-known items of their choreography. The work of researchers like Sankar Rao can also be noteworthy as he’s credited with not simply bringing to gentle Annamayya’s compositions but in addition these of different Tallapaka poets. Such is the inexorable draw of Annamayya’s writings that even Bharatanatyam dancers have begun to look there for inspiration.

The author is a dancer and inventive director of ‘Toes on Earth’.

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