Source: The Hindu; Author: Madhavi Ramkumar; Photo Courtesy: S. Mahinsha

Prominent Mohiniattam exponent Gopika Varma is no stranger to Bangalore. The Chennai-based artiste visits the city often to perform, teach and conduct workshops, and now holds regular classes here as well. In a recent interview, she answered several questions on the form and content of the art, and on her own experiences as a performing artiste. “I want to propagate Mohiniattam to the maximum extent possible, the best that I learnt for 30 years. Today, no one can learn from Kalyanikutty amma. But I had the good fortune to learn from her,” she says. About the current repertoire and comparative rarity of varnams, jathiswarams and thillanas in performances today, she says, “I belong to the old school. Kalyanikutty amma and the Kalamandalam style followed the old school which had varnams lasting 35 to 40 minutes. Kalyanikutty amma was the oldest exponent of Mohiniattam we had seen. And she taught us jathiswaram, varnam and thillana. Then how can anyone say that these items are not part of Mohiniattam?”

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No restrictions Gopika Varma Photo: S. Mahinsha