In an effort to understand the evolution of Mohiniyattam art form over the years and thereby document the work and experience of stalwarts and exponents by engaging in serious conversations and discussions, Mohiniyattam exponent Malavika Menon has launched Lasya Mukharika – Conversations on Mohiniyattam series on YouTube.
This emerging Mohiniyattam artiste hailing from Palakkad District of Kerala and living in Bangalore is has kick-started the Lasya Mukharia series on YouTube, which is gaining popularity among the practitioners of Mohiniyattam art form. In a free-wheeling chat with Jayashankar Menon, Editor of The Indian News, Malavika Menon speaks about her efforts to explore the evolution of Mohiniyattam and more. Excerpts:
TIN: Can you briefly explain about the Lasya Mukharika series and the intention?
MM: This is an interview series with various Gurus, practitioners, researchers and performers in the field of Mohiniyattam through which we are trying to understand the evolution of the art form over the years and thereby document the work and experience of these exponents. After recording the interviews with Mohiniyattam Gurus and artists by engaging in serious conversations and dicussions, we are uploading the same on YouTube channel, youtube.com/malavikamenon.
TIN: Can you tell us about your mentor, Vinitha Nedungadi…
MM: Guru Vinitha Nedungadi is a leading exponent of Mohiniytattam, renowned for her earnest attempts to enrich the repertoire of the artform. Our Guru has adapted many Malayalam poems into Mohiniyattam thereby playing an instrumental role in setting up a new trend in Mohiniyattam choreography. Her innovative experimentation includes Karukare Karumukil by Kavalam Narayana Panicker; Poothapattu by Edassery; the translation of Tagore’s Geetanjali by Mahakavi G Sankara Kurup. Guru Vinitha Nedungadi is also a top grade artist of Doordarshan and a panel member of ICCR, New Delhi.
TIN: So far, how many such interviews you have uploaded in your YouTube channel?
MM: We have uploaded 19 episodes so far. The first episode in our Lasya Mukharika series was none other than one of the greatest exponents of Mohiniyattam, Padmabushan Dr. Kanak Rele. Other episodes are such as Padma Shri Bharati Shivaji, Guru Sreedevi Rajan, Guru Kala Vijayan, Guru Kalamandalam Sugandhi, Guru Nirmala Paniker, Padma Shri Dr. Sunil Kothari, Guru Padma Shri Kalamandala Kshemavathy, Guru Kalamandalam Hymavathy, Dr. Deepa Omchery Bhalla, Sri V Kaladharan, Guru Kalamandalam Saraswathy, Guru Kalamandalam Vimala Menon, Guru Kalamandalam Chandrika, Dr. Sunanda Nair, Gopika Varma, Smitha Rajan, Dr. Neena Prasad and Pallavi Krishnan.
TIN: Incredible effort indeed. Also, can you talk about your journey to the world of classical dance?
MM: My entry into the world of classical dance was through Bharatanatyam, which I began learning at the age of four. Eventually, I realised my passion lies in Mohiniyattam. Due to my overriding passion to delve deeper into the art form of Mohiniyattam, I began my formal training under the tutelage of Guru Vinitha Nedungadi. I have solid 15 years training in Mohiniytattam from my Guru.
TIN: Can you throw light on the Senior Scholarship you have from CCRT?
MM: Yes, I am a recipient of the Senior Scholarship awarded by CCRT, Ministry of Culture, New Delhi for advanced training in Mohiniyattam. Besides that, I am also empanelled artiste of the ICCR, New Delhi and a graded artiste in Doordharshan.
TIN: You have also pursued law as your vocational studies before firming up your mind to focus fully on the art form of Mohiniyattam. Can you share more insights on the same?
MM: I am a graduate in law from ILS Law College, Pune. When I realised I have undying love for Mohiniyattam and secured another degree in Liberal Arts from Ashoka University under the Young India Fellowship Programme. Having said that, dance remains my serious passion till date and I am so desirous of learning performing dance to fulfill the deeper realms of passion.
TIN: Can you elaborate on the performances you had given?
MM: I have performed at several stages pan India as well as overseas destinations. Few of the notable performances include Kottakal Vishambara Festival, Sangam Festival in Odhisha; Palakkad Kathakali Trust, Navapallava Festival in Chennai; CSN Trust Dance and Music Festival; Dakshina Festival in Kollam; Edapally Nruthaswadaka Sadas in Kochi; Swathy Sangeetha Sabha in my hometown of Palakkad; Kalakaar in New Delhi; Sai Festival; Rasoham in Bangalore, Madhuvaram, IICF Riyadh and Utsavam IKKF in Dubai. I do conduct specially curated lecture-demonstrations for students and art lovers. In addition to that, I also run my Mohiniyattam Kalari, Sadhana in Bangalore.