Sweta Ranjan | February 26, 2016
Raja Reddy is an eminent Kuchipudi dancer, choreographer and guru. He was drawn towards Kuchipudi since childhood. His main influence was actress Vyjayanthimala Bali. After marrying Radha, Raja motivated her to learn the same dance form under the aegis of eminent Kuchipudi dancers, Sri Vedantam Prahlada Sarma and Sri PVG Krishna Sarma. Together the dancing duo is famously known as Raja-Radha Reddy. For their contribution to the dance form, they were conferred the Padma Shri (1984), Padma Bhushan (2000) and Sangeet Natak Akademi award. He later married Radha’s sister, Kaushalya who is also a Kuchipudi dancer. The trio together run Natya Tarangini Institute of Kuchipudi Dance that they formed in New Delhi. Following the footsteps of their parents, Raja’s daughters Yamini and Bhavana Reddy are also Kuchipudi dancers.
Most prized possession: Our institute, Natya Tarangini that we have created. This was the toughest task for us.
Happiness to you means: Dance and all the activities happening in my dance school. My whole life should be full of dance.
What influenced you to dance: I was interested in dance since my childhood. But the main influence came from the film Nagin. I watched it 17 times consecutively.
Your favourite piece of dance: I think I love all of them. But Natvangam is close to my heart. For the last 36 years I have been conducting this piece and I have never been bored of it. I enjoy it even now.
Your view on dance reality shows: It is a beautiful gesture but parents have started putting pressure on their kids who are part of these shows. Shows are good to recognise talent but parents have to be careful. Unnecessary pressure on kids is not good.
The art forms and culture are diminishing: No, it is not diminishing. In fact, parents are more interested these days. They are very particular that their children should opt for dance and music.
Dance to you is: A complete exercise for the body, mind and soul. It is a sampoorna kala.
Your favourite actress: Vyjayanthimala Bali. After watching Nagin, I tried to dance like her in school functions.
First time on the stage with Radha: It gave a sense of completeness. It was not merely dance. We were transformed into gods on stage.
Dance as a career: I always tell my students to build a standby career and not to fully depend on dance for livelihood. I tell them that the day they find success in dancing, they should quit their job. But till then, they need something to sustain themselves so that you are independent. In Russia, artists are highly paid as they are regarded as nation’s property. The government trains and grooms them since childhood. They are well looked after.
You want to be remembered as: Someone who has done service for Kuchipudi and has dedicated his whole life for this dance form.