Its Covid here, its Covid there, its Covid-19 everywhere! It has had its impact on every sphere and will continue to do so in the future too, to the extent that people are now talking about BC and AC—‘Before Covid’ and ‘After Covid” eras! Hence the spotlight in this issue is on Covid and the arts; USbased noted musician and composer Kanniks Kannikeswaran has attempted to analyse arts in the post-Covid scenario. Will arts as we know, ever be the same again?
On television and print media, we are bombarded with facts and figures about the pandemic from morning till night, which can be quite depressing. We have also presented a few statistics for you, but they are heartening figures about the Covid relief work undertaken by some prominent organisations in the arts fraternity. Three cheers to all the artists who are contributing in some way or the other to help others in need. On the one hand, music, dance, painting and other creative activity can be a soothing balm and calm the mind in a positive way. But what about performing artists for whom these could be the source of stress? Read what T. Nandakumar has to say about it in our ‘Wellness’section.
In our ‘News & Notes’ segment we have two reports— one of a regular festival held live in Patiala on a grand scale before the pandemic struck, and the second is a roundup of online events interestingly and intelligently put together by Apsaras Arts from Singapore during the worldwide Covid lockdown. In the coming months we will likely have more and more reviews of music, dance and theatre events streamed online via Zoom, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. Let us too keep in step with the times! In fact, in this issue we have a first person account from Rama Kousalya, a traditional, septuagenarian musicologist who cast aside her apprehensions about social media and learnt the ropes to successfully coordinate and conduct online the jayantis of Tyagaraja and Syama Sastry from far flung Tillaisthanam! Certainly an inspiration for all of us to gear up and become tech-savvy soon as this will probably be the “new normal” in the near future.
We do have our regular profiles of personalities. This time, Sruti contributor Anjana Anand, who is also a Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, has interviewed two senior dancers who have blazed a trail abroad— Malaysia based Ramli Ibrahim and US-based Hema Rajagopalan. Ramli is a classic example of a multifaceted artist who has transcended barriers through his art; he has been decorated with top honours in Malaysia and India. Bharatanatyam exponent and teacher Hema Rajagopalan, who turns 70 in a few months, has been one of the pioneers in propagating the dance form in the diaspora.
For classical music lovers there is a moving account of how Neyyatinkara Vasudevan rose from humble beginnings, through hard work and perseverance, to become one of the leading musicians and teachers from Kerala to make waves in the Chennai Carnatic music scene and around the world. There are also two analytical articles on the Varnam; one attempts to explore the unpublished varnas of Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar. In the second article, senior Bharatanatyam exponent and scholar Nandini Ramani provides insights into the structure of a traditional pada varnam.
Our varied content this month surely offers interesting fare for you to spend time on a positive note.