A love story that?s turning 50 - PHOTO SHOW TO MARK DANCE GURU?S TIES WITH CITY

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 18.07.05
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?Kerala is my birthplace, but Bengal is where I really belong,? declares Kathakali maestro Guru P. Govindan Kutty, the blithe intensity in his eyes and the lithe wiry frame belying the ripe 77 that he is.

Guruji?s (as he is fondly called by students) love affair with Calcutta started way back in 1955, when he came to the city and joined as principal of Nritya Kairalee, an institute for South Indian classical dances run by Calcutta Malayalee Samajam.

Since then, the chemistry with Calcutta has grown stronger by the year, gaining fresh impetus when, as founder-principal, he set up Kalamandalam Calcutta, an institute for Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali, along with wife Thankamani Kutty in 1968.

?To mark 50 years of his association with Calcutta, we are organising an exhibition of photographs at Gaganendra Pradarshashala from July 19 to 21,? says son Somnath G. Kutty, honorary secretary of Kalamandalam. West Bengal Music Academy will also felicitate Guru Govindan Kutty at Rabindra Sadan on Tuesday.

?He has been a wonderful guide and a true friend in my journey called ?life?,? says wife Thankamani Kutty, ?Auntie? to her Bharatanatyam students. The more visible half of the fabled Kutty-Kutty combine has nurtured Kalamandalam with great compassion alongside her husband over the years.

He has always shied away from the sweep of the spotlight. Nonetheless, a clutch of prestigious awards, like Nritya Visharad, Shiromani Purashkar, Nava Ratna Samman and Kaladarpanam have come his way during the course of a long, illustrious career. To ?Guruji?, however, his students and his adopted city remain everything to date.

?I'm extremely fortunate to be Guruji?s disciple. He is a father figure, whose endless patience has moulded me into an able artist of such a difficult dance form like Kathakali,? says Luna Bose, echoing the thoughts of hundreds of other students who have been blessed by his kindly care and guidance.

Still active as a performing artiste, he recently toured the US, rendering eight shows in collaboration with Balinese dancer Ni Ketut Arini and Kathak exponent Chitresh Das, alongside a string of workshops and lecture-demonstrations.

As a mark of respect to his contribution to arts, the state has produced a documentary film on his life and activities ? Miles To Go Before I Sleep.

?We are exploring possibilities of screening the documentary as part of our programme to commemorate his 50 years in the city and also dedicate a souvenir in his name,? Somnath announces.