Perini Sandeep has been performing across the city since the last eight years. Trained by Gurus Perini Prakash and his wife Suneela Prakash, students of Padma Shri late Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna, Sandeep steadfastly learnt the art form and started his own dance school, Sri Manidweepa Arts Academy, and registered it in 2019.
Hailing from Lingala Village, Penpahad Mandal, Suryapet District, Sandeep along with his parents and siblings moved to Hyderabad, when his father arrived in the city on job prospects. Son of a watchman and home-maker, Sandeep has come up the hard way.
Sharing his journey, the Perini dancer says: “Initially I began learning Carnatic Vocal, from Smt. Pratima Sashidhar, from Saraswati Sangeet Nrityalaya, Pillar No 56, Padmanabha Nagar Colony, but, whenever I came out of class, I heard the footsteps and beats of Perini and I stopped in my tracks to peep in class and catch what was happening. Soon, I realised that my heart was in Perini and not in Carnatic Vocal, which I had learnt for about a year.” To convince his father was a big issue, “My father didn’t give me permission, I was scolded many times, but I stood determined,” says the Perini artist.
Sandeep began training under Suneela Prakash. “I received my foundation in Perini from Suneela Garu and joined Prakash Sir in the senior level,” he says. After finishing training under his gurus, Sandeep with permission from them set up his own dance academy. “I firmly believe in Mother Goddess and her immense blessings, and named my school Sri Manidweepa Arts Academy and registered it in 2019,” he says.
The Perini dancer says that the art form is an ancient one and he is on a mission to propagate it and make it popular as other classical dance forms. Sandeep quotes Jayapa Senani, who was a military commander in the Kakatiya empire in 1213 AD of existence of Perini in the Nritta Ratnavali. He mentions that inscriptions about the dance are found on the Ramappa Temple in Warangal. He also states that even in the Mahabharatha there is mention of Perini where Arjuna performed during their ‘Agyatvasa’ (disguise period).
As it is well-known, Perini was performed by males going to war front, Sandeep says that he has worked on many new facets of Perini. “With Telangana government initiative to promote Perini Natyam Parampara, I have choreographed eight new compositions, four for boys and an equal number for girls, based on Abhinaya Darpana written by Nandi Keshavara’s hasta pada mudras, using late Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna’s Perini Natya Jatalu. I have performed these at Ravindra Bharathi and other forums too. For boys, there is only Nrittayam, while for girls, there is Nrittayam, Natyam and Abhinayam,” says the Perini practitioner.
Currently, Sandeep is training 25 students of Sri Annamacharya Sangeet Nritya Kalashala for the four-year certificate course in Perini. “I am also teaching 50 Government School students Perini Natyam for free,” he says. The artist shares that he has over 800 performances at various events for government and private programmes like festivals – Bonalu, Dasara, World Telugu Conference, in 2017, at LB Stadium and for Maha Shivaratri at Vemulawada. “This 2021 Shivaratri, I performed for the New York audience,” he says.
Sandeep has been bestowed with many awards, including Natya Bhushan, Kala Ratna and Natya Prakash to name a few and has etched his name in the Guinness Book of World Records, Bharat World Book and Telugu Book of Records.