Mamidi Harikrishna, Director, Dept. of Language & Culture, Govt of Telangana, in the times of the pandemic and lockdown is keeping the spirits of the artists and art lovers alive by organising online workshops and performances. Speaking to Natyahasini, Mamidi Harikrishna says, “Arts is reflection of our culture. Reinventing our ancient culture and glory and bringing it to the forefront is the work being done by the Language and Cultural Department, Telangana Government.”
Harikrishna says that on the occasion of State formation day on June 2, 2021, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, an art lover, writer and leader, who has great respect for artists, has doubled the pension of old artists from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 3016 and is working for the development of the artists. He says that a total of 2661 artists will benefit from the old age pension.
The Director of Dept. of Language & Culture states that they were the first ones to organise online classes for the students of Certificate and Diploma courses of Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music & Dance, Sri Annamacharya Government College of Music & Dance and Sri Bhaktha Ramadasu Govt. College of Music and Dance. “After Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Janata Curfew on March 22, 2020 and subsequently the lockdown, we were the first ones to start conducting online classes for our students from April 1, 2020,” he says.
After easing of the first lockdown and some semblance of normalcy, some cultural events were held at Ravindra Bharathi from December 2020 to April 2021, while on April 23, 2021, due to second wave of coronavirus, Telangana government, cancelled all programmes until further orders. But cultural activity is alive online.
The director believes in 6 Cs – ‘Corona Cannot Control Culture, Creativity, and Cinema’. He says that in a span of a year, they have conducted 925 programmes. “Some of our popular programmes like Script Writing, Film Making Workshop, Voice Acting, Dubbing & Voice Over, Kids Acting Workshop, Multi-lingual Poetry Workshop, are running into a couple of seasons, where each season lasts for 30 days,” he says. Harikrishna shares that even the State’s Martial Art like Katte Samu, which is an equivalent of Tahtib of Egypt, was conducted online.
Sharing about the 20-day First Environmental Theatre workshop, held at Lalita Kala Thoranam, which began on April 14, 2021, the director says that the sessions were conducted by the alumni of the prestigious National School of Drama and out of the 200 people, who auditioned, only 32 people were selected for the workshop. “Recently, we also conducted online certificate course on Hyderabad Heritage, where many stalwarts participated,” says the Film Historian, who recently released an anthology of 45 selected poems in a book titled Ontareekarana.
He says that currently the Department is involved in conducting the World’s Largest Online Theatre Festival. “The Prestigious 11th Multilingual Drama Festival which began on April 5, 2021, will conclude on July 14, 2021. A total of 100 days 100 Plays,” says Harikrishna. His clarion call is ‘Long live Arts and Culture of Telangana.