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Artistes

Music Composer
Producer & Performer
Performer & Co-creator
Performer & Co-creator
Performer & Co-creator
Performer & Co-creator
Artiste & Architect

Date & Time

Thursday Thu, 7 Sep 2023

Location

Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

ಕಾಯ | Kaaya is a devised performance inspired by the Vachanas of the 12th-century female poet Akkamahadevi. Her Vachanas, short simple poems in Kannada, are a social commentary of her times and also a reflection of her own spiritual journey. She is remembered for her strong stance on gender equality, her rejection of social conventions, and her criticism of the patriarchal society of her time.

The Sharana movement of the 12th-century Bhakti era largely aimed to challenge the hegemony of Brahminical Hinduism and its caste system. It was an important reformist movement that played a major role in the development of social, religious, and political structures in India. The movement advocated for an egalitarian society where all people were equal and there was no discrimination based on caste or gender. Though many female writers were considered to be part of this movement, Akkamahadevi’s feminist perspectives were not given equal importance during this time. The Sharana movement did not have a strong focus on female sexuality and gender, and Akka’s works that focused on these issues were not widely discussed or popularized. As a result, her feminist perspectives were largely overlooked, and her legacy as a feminist poet and philosopher is not as widely known as it should be.

Akka wrote poetically about the struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated society, and her work stands for women’s rights and freedom. Her writings challenged the idea that a woman’s sole purpose was to be a wife and mother, instead advocating for a woman’s right to self-actualization and fulfillment. Akka’s works also encourage women to take pride in their bodies and to reject the notions of shame and body image that were so prevalent in her society. By doing so, her work highlights the importance of agency for women and their right to make their own decisions and take control of their own lives. Her Vachanas articulate the need to challenge social conventions to achieve true freedom and liberation.

Akkamahadevi’s works challenge the notion that a woman is maya, or an illusion, by demonstrating that women are capable of being spiritual, powerful, and independent. She questioned the maleness of spirituality and showed that spirituality is not exclusive to any gender. Her Vachanas are often seen as prayers that reflect her own journey of spiritual awakening and her search for enlightenment. Her work talks about connecting with the body to connect with the divine and the importance of focusing on the physical body as a means of spiritual practice. Akka’s works are a powerful reminder of the importance of self-exploration and spiritual growth, and of the need to look within ourselves to find true liberation.

Some scholars have suggested that her works could be interpreted as queer in nature. Akkamahadevi’s poems often feature female characters who are strong, independent, and liberated from the conventions of society. These characters are often portrayed as being in love with each other, transcending the boundaries of gender and social conventions. This could be interpreted as Akkamahadevi’s way of expressing her own queer identity, and her works could be seen as a form of queer activism. The interpretation of Akkamahadevi’s work is subjective, and it is up to the individual to decide whether they see her work as being queer. However, her work has stood the test of time and continues to resonate with the contemporary politics of gender, sexuality, and queer identity.

Kaaya explores the concept of feminism, self-realization, liberation, religious tolerance, social justice, personal transformation, and female spirituality using Akka’s Vachanas as an inspiration. The artists hope to create art that highlights the importance of women’s rights and freedom and inspires women to take pride in themselves and their own power. The work was premiered at Ranga Shankara, Bengaluru on the 8th of March on International Women’s Day as a way of celebrating Akkamahadevi’s works.

Kaaya aspires to acknowledge Akka’s contribution to feminist literature and celebrate her legacy that continues to inspire and empower women today.

Credits:

Kaaya is a Kriyative Theatre Production

Vachanas by Akkamahadevi (12th Century poet)

Concept & Direction by Veena Basavarajaiah

Music by Murali Mohan Gowda

Co-creators & performers: Laxmi Chandrashekar, Deepti Nagendra,
Anagha Kashyap, Priyanka Chandrasekhar & Sripriya

Light design, costume design & scenography by Veena Basavarajaiah

Photographs by Arvind Sridhar

Artistes

Veena Basavarajaiah

Director
Veena is a Bangalore based movement artist who has created works in collaboraton with dancers, theatre artists, film makers, scientists, musicians and visual artists. She is an empaneled artist of ICCR and and her independent works have been presented in various national and international festivals. In theatre she has worked as an actor, movement director and directed plays and devised works. She has done her MA in South Asian Dance Studies from Roehampton University, UK and has written several essays and critiques about South Asian Dance.

Murali Mohan Gowda

Music Composer

Murali’s musical journey has taken him to various teachers of music from various parts of India. He was trained by Pt.Srinivas Mukashi, a senior disciple Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia, on the flute, in Bangalore. Later, he discovered his passion for multiple instruments and joined Dhrupad Sansthan, Bhopal where he spent next ten years learning Dhrupad on Rudraveena and Vocals. During his stay in Gurukul he made frequent trips to Udaipur and Kolkata to learn the intricacies of Dhrupad from Pt.Rajashekar Vyas and Pt.Asit Kumar Banerjee, respectively. As a performer Murali has collaborated with many artists and has travelled to various parts of India and performed at several reputed platforms.

Laxmi Chandrashekar

Producer & Performer

Laxmi has worked with well-known theatre directors and has presented her bi-lingual solo performances ‘Hennallave’/‘Just a Woman’  and ‘Singarevva mattu Aramane’/ ‘Singarevva and the Palace’ at numerous Theatre Festivals, universities and conferences on women’s issues within the country and abroad.   Other solo plays, Laxmi has scripted, produced and acted in are ‘Eddelu’ and ‘Medea’ ‘Kittalemane Kaveri’/ ‘Kaveri of Kittale Villa’ and ‘Lady Minus Macbeth’. Laxmi is the founder and Managing Trustee of ‘Kriyative Theatre’, an organization devoted to wholesome, artistic and socially relevant theatre.

Sripriya

Performer & Co-creator
Sripriya is a Bharatanatyam dancer and has worked as an actor in theatre and films. She has worked in several plays with prominent theatre productions like ‘Sambandhagala Sutta’ (WeMove theatre) and ‘Bendakalu on Toast’ (Rangashankara) to name a few. She is known for films ‘Ondu Shikariya Kathe’ (2020) and ‘Hosa dinachari’ (2022). Her short films ‘Lottery’ and ‘The Break’ were screened at Bengaluru International short film festival and MTV India IFS shorts respectively. An engineering graduate, Sripriya holds a master’s degree in Bharatanatyam. She is the founder and artistic director of Maarga KalaKendra – Bharatanatya Shaale.

Deepti Nagendra

Performer & Co-creator

Deepti Nagendra is a professional Dancer, Actor and a theatre artist. She is trained in Bharatanatyam and has been working in films and theatre. She is known for her performance in Shubhamangala, a Kannada feature film and Kannada plays Vesha and Rabdi. Priyanka is a lawyer by education and a professional classical dancer based in Bangalore.

Priyanka Chandrasekhar

Performer & Co-creator
Priyanka is a lawyer by education and a professional classical dancer based in Bangalore. She is trained in Bharathanatyam for more than 25 years and Kathak for about 10 years.  Priyanka has performed extensively in both solo and group formats in India and abroad along with popular dance companies. She is currently a freelance performer and choreographer and her work explores inter-disciplinary approaches, methods and collaborations that provide space and agency for her co-creators and audiences.She is trained in Bharathanatyam for more than 25 years and Kathak for about 10 years. Priyanka has performed extensively in both solo and group formats in India and abroad along with popular dance companies. She is currently a freelance performer and choreographer and her work explores inter-disciplinary approaches, methods and collaborations that provide space and agency for her co-creators and audiences.

Anagha Kashyap

Performer & Co-creator
Anagha is Freelance Movement and Theatre artist based in Bangalore. She is trained in various dance forms like Contemporary, Ballet, Bharathanatyam, Kalaripayattu, Chauu, Yoga and practices Puppetry. Anagha has worked with national and International choreographers, companies like Attakkalari , Nritarutya, Bangalore Theatre Ensemble, Puppetree etc and is a co-founder of Triyang Collective.

Priyanka J Rao

Artiste & Architect

Priyanka J. Rao is an artiste and architect based out of Bangalore. Trained under Guru Bhanumathi and Sheela Chandrasekhar in Bharatanatyam for over 20 years, her performing experience is enriched by her engagement in music, theatre, her role as an arts teacher and her multi -disciplinary work in the field of Social Architecture in Modern India.