A 3-year-old boy calls his mother and says, ‘Shall I tell you a story from Chandamama (a children’s magazine)? The amused mother is amazed when the boy proceeds to narrate the story through a dance, performing some folk movements. Choreography at that tender age!! The boy (Sridhar, who else?) was 14 when he began learning formal classical dance. Today, his 7-year-old daughter on her own is imbibing dancing with enthusiasm by just watching her famous dancer-parents. Dance obviously runs in the family.
Though dance was his inborn passion and metier, Sridhar completed his degree in civil engineering. “Everybody in the family was an engineer and they thought that qualifying as an engineer was a natural and fundamental duty. Though a good student I continued dancing,” he said.
A recipient of the Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy Scholarship, he was adjudged the Best Dancer in the State level dance competition conducted by the Academy in the year 1982-83.
Highly knowledgeable, Sridhar credits it to his extensive reading, inquisitive nature and free and open exchange of thoughts and experiences with fellow artists. He feels that unstinted support of his mother and his teachers helped him vent his passion for dance, hours on end, morning to evening.
Sridhar first met Anuradha when as children they were being trained in Bharatanatya by their Guru Smt. Radha Sridhar. They danced together in some of their teacher’s productions. They also trained under Guru Smt. Narmada. They were later initiated into the Kalakshetra style of dance by Guru Sri M. R. Krishnamurthy. They further honed their skills under the privileged guidance of the renowned danseuse and Guru Smt. Krishnaveni Lakshmanan, Ex-Principal, Kalakshetra, Chennai–the premier institution of dance and music. Later Anuradha graduated with distinction from Kalakshetra.
Marrying in 1991, they have been dancing together since, sharing their artistic sensibilities and have carved a niche for themselves in the dance scene with a fine blend of classical rigour and emotional intensity. Their technical virtuosity is underlined by vivid imagination. An intelligent involvement with the art, fierce dedication and their passion for perfection have placed them among the foremost dancers in the country today.
In their choreography, whether it is Srirama Charitham, a dance feature narrating the sublime story of Sri Rama or Naaticharaayaha, a feature on the man-women relationship (based on slokas from the Upanishads), the dancing couple show impeccable technique, perfect synchrony, vibrant nritya and a sophisticated sense of abhinayam. Their dance is highly communicative; with ease and poise they reproduce rasas, expressing emotional states ranging from the highly spirited to the profoundly introspective. Audiences easily understand and relate to the duo’s eloquent communication through movement and gestures.
Some of their other captivating choreography includes:
Bharata Shapatham: A solo dance feature by Sridhar, which highlights the noble character of Bharata. The lyrics are taken from Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam.
Kannada Sahitya Darshana: Presented through the medium of Bharatanatyam, are literary works of the great poets of Karnataka, ranging from the ancient to the modern.
Samyakjnanam: Based on the ancient Jain scriptures and Mahakavi Pampa’s Adi Purana.
The couple have given a number of performances all over India and abroad. Sridhar and Anuradha have established the Khechara Academy of Bharatanatyam and as its artistic directors they are endeavoring to pass on to their disciples the rich legacy they have received from great gurus.
Awards and Distinctions
In recognition of his meritorious service in the field of Bharatanatyam, the Government of Karnataka honoured Sridhar with the prestigious Rajyothsava Award for the year 2002. Bharat Kalachar, the premier cultural institution, Chennai, honoured the Sridhars with the title Yuvakalabharathi in the year 2001. The Aryabhatta Cultural Organization honoured him with the title Nrityakalabhushana for his service in the field of Bharatanatyam The Karnataka Journalists Forum honoured the Sridhars with the title Karnataka Chethana.
Sridhar in Cinema
A popular actor in Kannada cinema, Sridhar has acted in more than 50 films and has the rare distinction of acting in lead roles in five languages, namely, Kannada, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Hindi. He won the Karnataka State Government’s Best Actor Award for sterling performance as the saint-poet Sharief, in the film Santa Shishunala Shariefa. This film also won the prestigious Nargis Dutt award from the Central Government.