Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, the reputed Bharatanatyam dancer from Bengaluru and a very popular film actress in Kannada and Malayalam, is well-known for the varied and innovative experiments in her dance performances.
Recently, she was chosen by Naatyarangam, the dance wing of the prestigious Narada Gana Sabha Trust in Chennai to present the cultural contribution of the Wadiyars as part of the ‘Bhoopala Bharatam,’ a thematic conference across India, choosing six dynasties and their contribution to culture. The performance ‘Wadiyars of Mysore’, presented by her in Bengaluru drew a lot of appreciation.
Lakshmi is performing this evening at the Rani Bahadur Auditorium, Manasagangothri at 7 pm, as part of the 2-day Prof. D.S. Achuta Rao Memorial International History Conference which began in the city this morning.
She is giving a Bharatanatyam performance titled ‘A tribute to the cultural legacy of Mysore’, incorporating the Kritis by the Wadiyar Kings which showcases what Mysore culture was all about.
Lakshmi is in awe of the importance the rulers of Mysore and the people of Mysore gave and continue to give to culture.
Talking to SOM last evening at The Radisson Blu Hotel, she says the kind of legacy left behind by the rulers of Mysore is incomparable. Her performance today includes a verse from the Ranadheera Kanteerava time called ‘Govinda Vaidya’ which speaks of every street being devoted to artistes — a street for vainikas, one for the singers, one for the dancers….These things show the patronage the artistes enjoyed then. Chikkadevaraya was the one who patronised the Mysore School of Bharatanatyam.
Lakshmi, who read up a lot about the Wadiyars and their contribution to the cultural canvas, says this has had a huge impact on the culture of the people of Mysore and Karnataka itself! ‘Swalpa adjust madkoli’ is often tagged to the lives of our people here making them look very passive. But this in fact reflects their sense of inclusiveness and being broad-minded.
Karnataka is perhaps the only State where equal importance is given to both Karnatak and Hindustani music. This culture of inclusiveness began right from the times of Nalwadi when musicians and artistes were brought from other courts and given a respectful place here. That Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar was a graduate of Western classical music from the Trinity College of Music in England, speaks volumes about the interest in varied forms of music the Kings had. And I can proudly say that the Kannadiga mentality of including everyone with them is a result of the 600-year-old legacy we carry, she says with pride.
‘Yes this is a democracy and we are all equal. But to keep culture and history intact, we need to have that Royal touch,’ says Lakshmi and adds that perhaps the South Indian kings have done much more good to their people; and the Kings of Mysore have been ‘very fine’ in their approach to administration and culture.