Interviews

Kalakshetra’s Theatre re-opens. This woman played a key role

Bharata-Kalakshetra-inaugurationThe surprise rains on Thursday morning. The grand reception at the re-opening of an iconic auditorium in Kalakshetra. And the state government announcement that she was among the artistes to be honoured with the ‘Kalaimamani’ award. 

Kalakshetra’s director, Bharatanatyam dancer and guru and Abiramapuram resident Revathi Ramachandran could not have asked for more on the last day of February. 

We conversed as she drove to work on Friday as Kalakshetra prepared to celebrate the birth anniversary of its founder, Rukmini Devi Arundale. 

Bharata-Kalakshetra-inauguration-1You took charge as Kalakshetra director just days after work on the iconic Koothambalam space had begun. What was your role? 

- Our chairman, N. Gopalswamy had set the rules, the guidelines we had to follow strictly. The CPWD was in the project. Since a whole lot of people were involved - the architect Benny Kuriakose, the CPWD engineers, the contractors, the audio and electrical teams, our artistes and others - I called for weekly review meetings. That helped a lot: we could discuss issues, address them across the table, get moving. 

You also gave space to the artistes . . 

- Yes. They are key to the space. The teachers, the artistes, the Kalakshetra seniors like Prof. Janardhanan. Their contribution, their suggestions were also important and we listened to them too. Janardhanan sir worked on the curtains closely and to the very end. And the Kalakshetra admin team was also integral. Everybody wanted this auditorium revived. 

Was this a high-pressure project for you personally? Its renovation is mired in controvery. 

- No. I took it as part of my responsibility. In my own dance productions I believe in team work. I like to listen to ideas and suggestions. I did the same on this and I think it has worked beautifully. I also believe athai’s (Rukmini Devi) spirit guided us. 

So will see more programmes at Bharata Kalakshetra? 

- All our major festivals and concerts will be held here. We were keen to have some of the ongoing festival concerts (marking Rukmini Devi’s birth anniversary) at the new space. It rained that morning and I take it that we have been blessed.