Re: TAGDV @ Philadelphia - May 11th, 1996 - With Bapu and Nasy & Patri

Ramakrishna S. Pillalamarri (pkrishna@ARL.MIL)
Thu, 16 May 96 0:38:35 EDT

Re: 25th Year Celebrations of The Greater Delaware Valley Telugu Association

Palana waxed eloquent about this function so much, that I am afraid to point
out any thing in less than exalted terms, lest I might be shunned.

However, this post had many shorthand sentences, personal(ity) references
which I think may be better understood by a bit of explanation from adiyan.

>In less than 8 hours, the TAGDV gave us a spectrum of TELUGU CULTURE
>and provided us with an air filled with TELUGU AROMA.

Hear, Hear! Prof. Venkateswara Rao Vemuri who attended this function two
years ago, said about the same. He compared this with the TANA-type
conferences where one doesn't get to actually "see" so much, even though
there may be more "scheduled". I feel the same. Here the events are
presented in an auditorium setting (the way it should be), and you can
actually see and hear the stuff going on, on the stage.

>Dramas were great. The one "kaLLu" (by Gollapudi) was staged by the
>Appajosyula's team (I think from NJ). This team was professional.

One wouldn't really "get" the real import of that last sentence until
one actually witnesses a drama staged by this group. Their stage settings
are elaborate, for this drama, as well as for another I saw three years
ago, called "kundETi kommu". But being in this country where everything
is available for a price, and with the engineering talent available, a
group can come up with some pretty elaborately designed sets, if they are
willing to spend the money. The greatness of this group is in upstaging
the elaborate set, and transcending over it. When the curtain opens, you
look at the set, and say "wow"! But as the play progresses, you marvel at
the acting. It is not the kind that makes you say "wow", because you are
too absorbed in it, and are beyond that stage.

As I was watching the play, I wondered how it was being received by Bapu,
thefamous director, who was in the audience.

>Venu Dasagi's team did a fantastic job. Venu and his wife also acted in
>that play (on elections). That was a humorous play. I could not stop
>laughing. Well done Venu! Nice action and excellent direction.

I saw Venu and Vijaya in a play in a GWTCS function, about ten years ago.
So I knew what they are capable of. But with roll of time, and the toll
of children (ten years ago, they were a just-married couple, now they have
a couple of children - and staged a play called "iccaTa prEmalEkhalu
vrAyabaDunu"), I didn't know how it might be. And this time he is
directing the play too, on behalf of the Connecticut Telugu Association.

It was very good. There was good mix of comedy and seriousness in it.
Even when cintakAyala sannAsappaDu (the hero) turns the plates on the two
politicians who are wooing him for his vote, and the influence he carries
in his part of the town, he proclaims his allegiance to a real selfless
politician whom he admires, but knows doesn't have a chance at winning an
election. So he "wins" it for him by proxy. The funny dialogues palana is
referring to are the interchange between cilakamma, the wife and her son,
in a what we used to call "butler-english", or a step below that.

I am told that they did some realtime surgery and reduced the length of
play, because the whole function was an hour behind schedule, and they
were pressed for time. The surgery was seamless, for the audience. One
of the TAGDV organizers, Mr. Annamacharya himself (pOtukUci Sreenivas for
the rest of us) went around to the Judges, alerting them to this fact,
and suggesting that they should be given some consideration for this.
Quite a gallant act.

>Approximately an eight year old girl did a lambADi dance. Costumes were
>exact matching and for a moment you feel that an original lambADi came to
>dance on the stage. The song was also a well-suited one.

In many of the folk dances, the costumes, and the color combinations
were eye-catching, between all the members of the group. It was as though a
conscious effort was made to see how they would look, when the artists are
dancing around the stage. This was of course, more so in group dances with
several participants.

>A folk dance group did a marvellous job. The finale was a wheel
>arrangement with colorful saris. This was novel.

This was a very novel choreography. It starts with six people on the stage,
apparently drying-off saris, by holding the ends, and waving them in the
air. At near the end, they do a wheel-pattern, with three people in the
centre, and three at the tip of the circle, with the sarees as the spokes.
Very novel indeed. I thought this was a "jAnapada nRtyam" at its best.

>Adult singers did a good job too. Especially Subrahmanyam from N.
>Carolina and Mr. Annamacharya of the Greater Delaware Valley (He was
>introduced to me by Sri Pillalamarri that way) sang excellent. Also
>there were a couple of ladies did a superb job of singing.

darbhA subrahmaNyam from North Carolina, and pOtukUci SreenivAs from
Philadelphia are the people being referred to. And puccA lakshmi from
Raleigh, NC.
>One young girl danced showing the evolution of dance in Telugu cinema
>from 1940s to 1980s.

She traced the evolution of the song & dance in telugu movies from 50's
(piluvakurA, alugakurA from suvarNa sundari), through 60's (rAvE rAvE bAlA,
hello my dear leelA, in xxxxx), 70's (tikka rEgindA, oLLu timmirettindA, in
xxxxx), 80's(L anTE, O anTE, V anTE, E anTE lavvu, lavvu, lavvu, lavvu,
lavvu, lavvu lE, in xxxxx), and 90's(abba nee tiyani debbA in xxxxx).
The novelty of the idea itself would make the item very popular. In
addition her performance was good too.

>One dance by Chy. Palepu (sorry! I can only remember this last name) was
>excellent. The little one did a wonderful job. Her costume selection
>was right. Above all, I have never seen such a smiling and cheerful
>face (the world is full of depressing faces) and she had all the

hita pAlepu (and her father nAgEsh pAlepu, who was in the Philadelphia
drama) would be glad to hear that. hita is a perennial competitor. She is
learning bharata nATyam, and I think sings too.

>I had time to talk to Bapu. He was good. Talks well on one on one
>basis. In the mean time, some one said looking at his Bhagavatam
>painting "palikeDidi BAgavatamaTA, palikimceDidi rAmaBadrumDaTa"-"adEmiTi?
>pOtana vrAsinadi BAgavatam. rAmuDu vrAyimcaDamEmiTi". Immediately
>Bapu gave a good fitting reply and PRK substantiated it saying that a
>couple of pieces of Ramayanam was incorporated in Potana's Bhagavatam.

In the 1500+ pages of bhAgavatam, pOtana covers the story of rAmAyaNa in
three or four pages (IX-259 to 363, 105 verses). But more than the cursory
inclusion of rAmAyaNa, the entire work is dedicated to rAma. Remember
the chapter-beginning dedicatory poems, such as

krAmita rOdOntarALa, kamaneeya mahA
jeemUta tulita dEha!
SyAmala rucijAla! rAma candra nRpAlA!

Sree kanTha cApa khanDana!
pAkAri pramukha vinuta bhanDana! vilasat-
kAkutthsa vamSa manDana! (t+th+sa)
rAkEndu yaSO viSAla, rAma nRpAlA!

In the avatArika, he refers to a dream where this divine person appears,
and tells him tht he is rAma, and commands him to translate bhAgavatam
into telugu, and thereby realize his salvation. The next poem is

palikeDidi bhAgavatamaTa,
palikinceDi vADu rAma-bhadrunDaTa, nE
balikina bhava-hara-magunaTa,
palikeda, vEronDu gAtha palukaga nElA!

and in a next poem he acknowledges that poets like nannaya and tikkana,
while translating the purANas, and like, perhaps left bhAgavatam for pOtana,
due to his purva-janma-kRta-puNyamu. He declares that he will perform this
task, and escape from the cycle of life and death.

>Nasy was the editor and he did a commendable job as the editor of
>the 25th TAGDV Suvenir - the "vemDi velugu". The cover was painted by
>Sri Bapu - Excellent painting. Items in the souvenir were good too.

The best of the bunch, IMO, were the ones by parucUri, vEmUri, and

Ramakrishna "a great fan of TAGDV, and their annual festival" Pillalamarri

PS: I see nasy made an announcement as to the availability of the souvenir.
The entire programme (9 hours+), is taped professionally, and probably would
be available in a few weeks. Off hand, (rank speculation) let's say the
tape(s) would be sold for $20. The souvenir plus the tapes would cost
you $30, a mere $5 more than what a family paid for admission to the event.
I think it would be worth it to get the tapes. It'll give you four telugu
dramas, countless folk dances, light music, and such. In the entire length
of the proceedings, organizational stuff takes perhaps a total of fifteen
minutes, and that might be on the high side.