Dr. Radhika is well known as the Ambassador of Mohiniyattom who has the capability to perform in different languages keeping in mind the taste and knowledge of the audience. Born and brought up in Bangalore, Dr. Radhika is well known for her efforts to popularise Mohiniyattom all over the world. She is the first non-resident Keralite who has won the prestigious award for Mohiniyattom instituted by Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi. Regular practice and years of hard work in research bagged her a doctorate from TrinityCollege, London. She still continues her research. She has come out with new findings which reflect in her innovations called Kerala thalams and Angika Abhinayam presented according to Balaramabharatham. She is also an author of a Book on `Mohiniyattom, ‘The Lyrical Dance of Kerala. She has also formed an Nrithya Dhara charity trust to help old and needy artists.
Dr. Radhika talks to Sreeni K.R about her vision and plans of Mohiniattam.
·Briefly Explain Mohiniattam. ·Mohiniattam is the only dance form in south which has been performed right from its inception by females. It has nothing to do with the devadasi system as it originated in the Malabar area where you will find mostly Devi worship and it was mainly performed by the Nair women in courts, Manas and illams.
If I can describe Bharatanatyam as angles and triangles, Mohiniattam is only spirals and curves. The lyrical beauty of Kerala flora and fauna is visible in the chuvadus of Mohiniattam.
·When did you seriously start learning Mohiniattam? ·I learnt Mohiniattam when I was a student at Kalamandalam but I seriously took to Mohiniattam only in the 90s after my fathers’ death. I stopped even seeing other forms of classical dance as I did not want to mix styles.
·Who were your Gurus then?
· My gurus were Chinammu Amma and Kalamandalam Sathyabhama.
·Does training in Kathakali help you in your field? ·I am able to give lecture demonstrations to a world wide audience and show them the difference between Mohiniattam and Kathakali.
·Did your parents help and support you when you chose Mohiniattam as your career? ·Except for my dad all my relatives were against me being a dancer as I come from a very traditional family.(I do not know whether they approve or not even now-but it does not matter).
·Are you a good orator? Can you explain about your oratory skills? ·I am able to come down to the audience level and I do not feed them things which they do not understand.
·You have given lectures and demonstrations in Mohiniattam at the national and international level? What was your experience? · It is always an interesting experience and I do get feedbacks.
·You have done research in Mohiniyattom for many long years. What new things did you find during the research? · I am still discovering new things. Recently in CochinI presented an item on Kerala Thalams and also an item on the Angika Abhinayam according to Balaramabharatham.
·You are known as the ambassador of Mohiniyattom and also perform in almost all languages.How do you prepare yourself for performing in other states? · Language is a means of communication. It is difficult even for Keralites to understand all the mudras so, when I perform in other states, since my motto is to propagate and promote Mohiniattam, I use the language which the people can comprehend.
·You have performed for dignitaries like the SAARC delegates, WHO delegates, Soviet Representatives, Diplomats and others? What was your experience then? · My performance is always well received.
·Were you delighted when you were selected for the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Award for Mohiniyattom? Share your feeling? ·I was abroad when the award was announced. I was grateful that my work was recognised.
·You came out with a book, on `Mohiniyattom, The Lyrical Dance of Kerala? What is it all about? It is about Mohiniattam-its history and it is based on Balaramabharatham.
·You have formed a Nrithya Dhara charity trust? What was its aim? · Helping old and needy artists with a monthly honorium of Rs.500 till they are no more.
· Are there any takers for Mohiniyattom abroad? How do you support them? · My students have started classes abroad . I visit them every year or they come to me.
·Do you think the GuruKula system still exists in its original form? What’s the major difference you find between disciples of the GuruKula and modern day performers? I don’t think Gurukulam exists any more. People have become commercial. Sharing and caring is no more. It has affected every field. I think the hard work in the Gurukula sytem stands in stead when it comes to performance.