In mid-August this year, Google announced a long-term collaboration with Prasar Bharati, under which the former will host livestreams and digitise content for the public broadcasting agency. What is interesting and important is that the tech giant will aid Prasar Bharati to digitise over two decades worth of content with Doordarshan and All India Radio, across 12 Indian languages, and this will be hosted on Google Arts & Culture. It will indeed be a big step in bringing the best of Prasar Bharati’s programmes on India’s rich history and culture to digital users across age-groups to a wide range of global audiences. It certainly augurs well for Indian art and culture.
Another commendable development in the storage and archiving of Indian art is the donation of the mammoth Mohan Khokar Dance Collection (MKDC) to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in New Delhi. The collection, preserved with care by dance writer Ashish Khokar, was initiated several decades ago by his father—the famous writer, performer and arts administrator Prof. Mohan Khokar (1924-1999)—with the grand vision of documenting dance. The treasure trove comprises a mindboggling number of photographs, paper clippings, publications, posters, artefacts and memorabilia of dancers over the decades. It is heart-warming that the MKDC has finally found a befitting space at IGNCA where a team guided by Ashish Khokar has already begun sorting, sifting, and categorising the material with the long term plan of digitising and setting up a gallery-museum. Sruti is well aware of the pioneering collection of Mohan Khokar who was a good friend and used to contribute articles with rare photos quite regularly to the magazine. In fact when N. Pattabhi Raman and Mohan Khokar (who had relocated to Chennai) decided to collaborate, the Sruti Foundation played a small role in helping to transport the MKDC collection to Chennai.
The past month has seen the sad demise of two veterans dedicated to the arts. RajalakshmiParthasarathy, popularly known as Mrs. YGP, Dean & Director of the PSBB group of schools, visionary educationist, and patron of art and culture, passed away in Chennai on 6 August 2019 at the age of 93. She was a multifacetedwoman who, apartfrom playing a pioneering role in education, has left her mark in journalism, theatre, women’s welfare, social causes, restoration of temples, and talent promotion. A major contribution of Mrs. YGP is that she propagated art and culture among the young in a big way because she believed in developing a holistic approach to education with emphasis on all-round personality development. Braving her illness, she was an inspiring presence in Chennai art circles. She received several awards; Sruti too honoured her with the M. Venkatakrishnan Memorial Award for her role as‘sabhanayaka’ of Bharat Kalachar.
To those who have seen the Ramayana dance-dramas of Kalakshetra, C.K. Balagopalan is synonymous with Anjaneya. From his teens till the very end, “Balagopal” remained the dedicated, enthusiastic, sprightly dancer who poured his heart and soul into the diverse roles he played on stage and came up with a memorable performance every time. He was an integral part of Kalakshetra. After his retirement, the veteran dancer ran his own dance school, took part in dance productions, workshops, and mentored dancers at Kalakshetra. The dance world has lost a great artist in his sudden demise on 24 August in Chennai.
Sruti conveys its heartfelt condolences to the family members of Mrs. YGP and C.K. Balagopalan. (We have published cover stories in August 2015 and October 2010 respectively.)
In the September issue we offer varied fare with articles on Bhajan Sopori— veteran Hindustani santoor maestro, an interview with young but established Carnatic musician Amritha Murali, and the second article in the series on art pioneers in the Indian diaspora focussing on Houston-based classical dancer Rathna Papa Kumar. Apart from several news reports you can also read the first of a three-part article on Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan’s Melaragamalika.