Acclaimed performer Shivananda Hegde continues to inform tales with vigour and keenness

They say the preparation for the journey into the highlight occurs within the inexperienced room. It couldn’t have been more true within the case of Shivananda Hegde. On February 3, 2009, when he walked into the inexperienced room, he was unaware of the massive accountability that he can be bestowed with.

His father, the renownded Yakshagana artiste Shambu Hegde, had suffered a coronary heart assault throughout a present and summoned his son to the inexperienced room to crown him successor. On the stage, simply minutes earlier than, Shivananda had performed Shatrugna whereas his father performed Rama in Lava-Kusha Kalaga that was being carried out at Idagunji Mahaganapathy temple.

According to Yakshagana custom, the lead actor’s crown have to be personally handed over, failing which the crown can’t be worn by the successor. It is sort of a coronation ceremony. The Idagunji Yakshagana troupe has been performing persistently on the temple for a number of years, and Hegde thinks it was really a miracle that his father’s final efficiency additionally occurred on the temple.

Yakshagana actually means, “music of the yaksha (demi-gods/spirits) and the mela or troupe consists of two important elements: the mummela (foreground actors) and the himmela (singers and instrumentalists within the background). It is a theatrical artwork type of Karnataka, initially an all-night efficiency the place the mela travelled from one village to a different with exhibits being held within the open air.

The bhagavatha, a part of the himmela, is the lead singer and narrates the story by songs, whereas the dancers/actors (mummela) enact the tales drawn from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the puranas. On the day of the efficiency, the artistes assemble a makeshift stage with a chauki (inexperienced room), and the raja kirita (lead character’s crown) is positioned on the entrance to the inexperienced room. The singers occupy a raised platform in the back of the stage whereas the viewers sits throughout the stage, trying up on the actors.

Every vital character is launched by lifting the theray (display), which prepares the viewers for the precise second when these larger-than-life characters will emerge on stage in all their grandeur. The ornate costume conists of kirita (headgear), kavacha (armour), bujakeerti (armlets and shoulder bands), and dabu (belts) — all made from light-weight wooden and coated with golden foil. The smaller roles get easier costumes and make-up.

Shivananda comes from a household of conventional Yakshagana artistes. When he was 12, he was initiated into the artwork by his uncle, Gajanana Hegde. He balanced college and Yakshagana coaching, and the primary function he performed was of Abhimanyu. He started with small roles and moved on to meatier ones as he received higher in dialogue supply, absorbing the nuances and deciphering characters.

Though he belonged to the North Kanara model, he additionally learnt the opposite variations which helped him to get a deeper understanding of the artwork type. After commencement, he educated in choreography underneath Guru Maya Rao.

Equipped with these abilities and educated in different points of the artwork type, Shivananda Hegde went on to run the gurukula that was established by his father. It was his grandfather, Shivarama Hegde, who had established the repertory that his father adopted when he established the gurukula. Shivananda now carries the custom ahead.

Yakshagana requires the artiste to first prepare his voice to align to the sruti of the bhagavatha, and coaching begins with the educational of the seven talas and 7 adavus, understanding rhythm with workout routines in percussion, and a examine of the scriptures. The college students then concentrate on an space of their curiosity — both singing, percussion or dialogue supply. Thus, whether or not mummela or himmela, the artistes get an immersive coaching.

After this, gamers ascend the stage with purva ranga, doing small roles reminiscent of patra pravesha or the hunter dance earlier than graduating to greater roles the place they’re educated to make use of mudras, eye actions and expressions, and stances for numerous characters. Interestingly, to know lasya, Yakshagana artistes should don the stree vesha.

Shivananda says Yakshagana is holistic studying. One must be self-reliant — donning make-up and costume oneself. “Dialogue delivery is the trickiest part,” says Shivananda. “Lines cannot just be memorised and delivered. The artistes have to read the scriptures and epics to understand the characters. It is here that an artiste’s individuality is put to test, where with each performance he seeks newer meanings and interpretations. They must move with the times, understanding the need to respect change in the light of tradition.”

Though performances had been initially staged as all-night exhibits, this modified with time, particularly once they started performing overseas. The dialogues have been shortened too. The dialect varies relying on the place of efficiency. “But all this has happened without compromising on the four core elements — angika, vaachika, aharya and satvika. When we perform outside Karnataka, we connect with the audience more through emotion and aharya,” says Shivananda.

The performer has launched vigorous actions and synchrony in group dances. He avoids deeply philosophical tales, preferring the extra standard and acquainted ones. One of the primary modifications he has caused is to provide small roles to the artistes who maintain the display to introduce the primary characters. He has additionally revived some forgotten conventional costumes.

To take the artwork past the obstacles of caste and faith, Shivananda got here up with dialogues with common attraction. “We remove objectionable dialogues that may be considered social evils today,” he says.

Speaking of the lengthy journey of Yakshagana and the arduous instances his father and grandfather confronted, Shivananda says that Shambu Hegde was initially not in favour of his son pursuing the artwork type. But seeing Shivananda’s ardour, he ready him to hold the mantle.

The artiste was in Chennai not too long ago to obtain a lifetime achievement honour from Dakshinachitra. At a time when artistes are struggling and it has been a problem to maintain the gurukula operating, Shivananda says the award has enthused him to inform his tales with renewed vigour.

The writer is a Chennai-based freelance author.


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