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Home Personality Interviews Madireddy Mamatha

Madireddy Mamatha

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Interview with a poised Dansuese

Madi Reddy Mamatha

The setting was unusual. It always is when your assignment is an interview. Your subject is an individual and that too when she happens to be an accomplished dancer in the Bharatanatyam mould. This month I introduce Madi Reddy Mamatha, a dusky woman with eyes twinkling like those of a child.

When we sat in the antiquated lounge of one of the ancient clubs of the city, the Secunderabad Club for our tete-a-tete, a thought struck me. Here I am sitting where people bask in a typical colonial ambience, however much they sweat beneath their dinner jackets, and interviewing a dancer of a classical tradition. Two different worlds we blend our lives into!

Madi Reddy Mamatha has been described as a very fine exponent by leading reviews. One of her performances recently, I saw in Ravindra bharathi. The role of Draupadi was enacted in a contemporary dance ballet where she daringly questions the very basis of male thinking. We were all seeing a powerful artiste who moved with an unbridled passion notwithstanding the fearful quaking of a humiliated woman.

A student of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Mamatha was raised in Hyderabad and studied dance under the tutelage of Ananda Shankar, the renowned dancer and a personality prepossessed. Our conversation throughout reflected a tremendous influence of teacher over disciple. This is to the spirit of tradition. Salute!

Some excerpts… (My every question brought forth a remarkably precise recollection of exact date and year down the twenty odd years.)

Q. How did it all start?

Answer : Shankarabharanam! That one movie… I knew I had to learn dance. That was in my second class. I remember I joined the dance class on 20th June 1980. That was when Akka started her Dance Class in Keys High School.

Q. Akka…?

Answer : Ananda Shankar! (She comes out in a rhythm that suggests, “Who else but!”) Twenty years and I still remember very well.

Q. Tell us about your early memories…

Answer : Well, 20th September 1980 (just after two months) -- my first performance. It was hilarious. I played Krishna and I had my robe slipping off. My principal was trying hard to pull me backstage and I kept wriggling out, insistent upon not losing any of the action! Those times were good. And I had my Arangetam on October 17th 1983 (A dancer’s formal initiation and maiden performance. It is a solemn tradition in any south Indian classical dance form).

Q. Who has been your main support and inspiration?

Answer : Family has been very supportive. Without them I would never have come this far. My inspiration, my idol, my guru and mentor, all are but one – Akka. She has inspired all of us to lead our lives in a way. “Dance to your heart’s content. Not for bread ‘n’ butter,” she used to say. And today I combine both dance and my work careers very efficiently.

Q. And what pays for your bread?

Answer : I work as a Manager Finance/Administration for a software company here in Hyderabad.

Q. Does it not take you away from dance?

Answer : No, not at all. Have been working for the last many years. It never messed with my dance. Had that been the case, I wo

uld not be having my performances frequently. I would not have toured abroad in the past few years.

Q. About your trips abroad?

Answer : I joined Akka on my first visit abroad to Cyprus, Egypt. It was sponsored by ICCR. I remember it was hot! Where people called it a tan-paradise, we were constantly shielding ourselves from being scorched to death! But it was fun. We even went for a mid night swim in the ocean! Our next trip was more exciting. All of us, our entire batch traveled extensively spanning Japan to Burma. It was a great learning experience.

Q. Tell us about the high points of your life.

Answer : Ummm… Certainly memorable was my first All India Gold Medal back in 1983. (She got one in ‘84 too) It coincided with Akka’s b’day. Another fact was; Akka had won a similar gold medal in ’73. So that was like coming a whole circle. It felt great.

Q. Anything else that makes you feel great?

Answer : Sachin Tendulkar! I love cricket. Why! We have our own family celebrity in the form of my Uncle. He captained Hyderabad that won the ’86 Ranji Trophy. In fact our family has been associated with cricket for a quite a while. So it does rub off.

Q. So finally, what has it been like, and how do you intend it to be?

Answer : I would never have it any other way. And how I intend to be? I’m going to continue the same, work and dance, not necessarily in that order. I would like to start a dance school, as a part of Shankarananda Kalakshetra and not separately, mind you. - Best of luck Mamatha!

Comments (1)

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Hello Mamatha

How are you . We studied in same school and same batch. I don't know whether you remember me and Nagasree. Pls get back to be if you get this message. Thanks

Padmaja Sreekakulam
padma , April 08, 2011

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