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Well-matched

P.K. AJITH KUMAR

Sridhar and Anuradha say they prefer dancing together to solo performances.

Photo: S.Ramesh Kurup

DANCING DUO: Bharatanatyam dancers Sridhar and his wife, Anuradha.

Sridhar loved to dance so much that he sacrificed a flourishing career as an actor to pursue dance as a way of life. When Anuradha, a budding dancer, wanted to marry him, he ensured that it was the dancer she would be marrying, not the popular hero of Kannada cinema.

Dance, a constant

Dance has been a constant in the lives of Sridhar and Anuradha, who have established themselves as a dancing duo. The two Bangalore-based Bharatanatyam dancers say they prefer to dance in tandem to solo performances. “After we began giving recitals as a dancing duo, I have done just two solo shows – both were at festivals for male dancers. Although I used to enjoy my solos earlier, now I would like both of us to share the stage,” says Sridhar.

After performing in the Soorya festival in Thiruvananthapuram, the two were in Kozhikode to perform again for the Soorya Festival in Kozhikode. Sridhar is not a stranger to Malayalis. He had enacted the role of Ramanathan in Fazil’s 1993 movie ‘Manichithrathazhu.’ The way he and Shobana danced to ‘Oru murai vandhu…’ remains one of the highlights of the film.

“I am recognised by Malayalis the world over because of ‘Manichithrathazhu.’ The film may have been made in several other Indian languages including Tamil (‘Chandramukhi’) and Hindi (‘Bhool Bhulaiya’), but none of them come anywhere near ‘Manichithrathazhu.’ Which isn’t surprising, because the other heroines couldn’t match Shobana’s steps,” feels Sridhar.

He adds that Shobana was one of the persons who recommended his name for the role. “And Fazil had seen me in K. Balachander’s Tamil film ‘Manathil Urudi Vendum.’ That’s how I landed the role in ‘Manichithathazhu.’ Shobana and I had choreographed most of the dance ourselves,” he recalls.

Not long after ‘Manichithrathazhu,’ Sridhar decided to take a long break from films. “I found that if I wanted to focus on dance, I would have to leave cinema, which had made me popular and which certainly was much more lucrative than classical dance. At that time I had acted in over 50 Kannada films as a hero, but I had made up my mind; I wanted to be a dancer,” he says.

Although he used to dance as a little boy, it was only at the age of 16 that Sridhar began taking formal lessons in Bharatanatyam from Radha Sridhar, who was also teaching Anuradha.

“Both of us were following the Pandanallur style. However, later, we were enamoured by the Kalakshetra style; we find it suits us,” he explains.

Complimenting her husband, Anuradha says: “He is such a complete dancer and a brilliant choreographer too. As a young student of Bharatanatyam in Bangalore, I had watched his performances with admiration. Moreover, I doubt if I could have had a career as a dancer if I had married someone else,” she says.

Voicing her disappointment over the fact that many parents are reluctant to allow their children to pursue a career in dance, she says: “It is unfortunate that classical dance doesn’t get its due in our country. The dancers get few opportunities and are paid ridiculously low amounts. We toiled for six months on our production ‘Mahabharatham,’ but all that we got for its performance was Rs. 15,000.”

Sridhar feels much has to be done to promote India’s classical arts. “Our classical dancers and musicians have to be taken proper care of by our Government. We shouldn’t allow our glorious culture to perish for want of support,” he says.

Despite concentrating on dance, Sridhar adds he is open to Malayalam films if he gets a meaningful role. “I have always had high regard for Malayalam cinema. I admire Malayalam films for their artistic qualities,” he elaborates.

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