17 February, 2011

Raja Radha Reddy

Today there were two events-
A fair in British High Commission
Day 3 of International Dance festival.

My friends went and I had to miss both because of work commitments.

In International Dance festival, there was Kuchipudi dance by Raja and Radha Reddy and Whirling dervish dance from Turkey.

But  I found a small video to satiate myself and see how dervish dance was today

And here is a video clipping for Raja Radha Reddy of Kuchipudi Dance

The personal life of Reddys put together, is more fascinating than their professional one. They started as a twosome and ended up as a group of five: There is no confusion. They publicly handle their somewhat complicated relationship. They are neither apologetic about it nor attempt to explain the threesome: This is how we are take it or leave it. The original couple, Raja and Radha, are the dancing duo who have in past years, to quote New York Times stormed and circled the stage flashing out showers of cleanly articulated dramatic gestures.

Kaushalya, Yamini, Bhavna, Raja & Radha Reddy.
The Kuchipudi family: Kaushalya, Yamini, Bhavna, Raja & Radha Reddy.
Kaushalya is Kuchipudi dancer Raja Reddy’s second wife. . Flip through the CV and it is one on Raja and Radha even though Kaushalya is a dancer in her own right and steers the Natya Tarangini: a school set up by Reddy’s to teach Kuchipudi form of dancing. Professionally the focus is clearly on Raja and Radha Reddy, who are among the first dancing couples in India. 
 By her own admission, she was struck by his looks. Except that it happened ten years after she had lived with the Reddys. Radha and Kaushalya, are sisters.

Raja Reddy and his two wives, Radha and Kaushalya
Raja Reddy and his two wives, Radha and Kaushalya

Kaushalya came to them as a toddler and Raja, initially her brother in law, was her guardian in Delhi: a father figure really. But an overseas trip changed the relationship. They were in Singapore when Kaushalya watched a performances: My God what a handsome man. No wonder women vie for is attention, she said to herself. Impulsive as she is, Kaushlaya went backstage and proposed to him. She was all of 14 and Raja 30 or 40 plus she says with a twinkle in her eye. Raja dismissed it as infatuation but Kaushalya was not willing to relent: Abhi, isi waqt abhi nahin to kabhi nahin. (It is now or never) She served an ultimatum.
To Kaushalya, it was not about breaking Radha’s home but settling in there. When she told Radha about her intention, Radha imposed a condition: Share my husband but not the stage. Kaushalya willingly agreed. For her it was not about dance but the man. For Radha, it was more the onstage chemistry between her and her husband.
Therefore, while the two literally share the man, Raja the dancer is exclusively Radha’s. And Kaushalya has not trespassed the limit set by her sister. Even though trained by both Raja and Radha Reddy (they are my gurus Kaushalya says) Kaushalya quit dancing many years ago. Later when the girls, Yamini and Bhavana, were born, the whole family has often performed together.
Raja’s marriages, both of them, created a sensation. His first, to Radha, happened when they were kids, given that in their home state of Andhra Pradesh, child marriages were common. But Radha’s parents were unwilling to send off their daughter with a penniless dancer. Radha bribed the village potter with the only coin she had as savings, to summon Raja to rescue her. Raja sold off his only shirt to reach her. They eloped and married on the train to Hyderabad.
His second marriage to Kaushalya. was kept under wraps for sometime. Once announced, it created a stir. Many of his friends chided him: Itni aachi biwi hai, doosri kyon laya (You are married to such a nice girl. Why did you remarry?) Kismat kismat(Destiny) is all that Raja would say in his defence.

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