Harshini Bhupathiraju, Kuchipudi dancer, was clean bowled by legend Late Guru Sobha Naidu Garu, when she met her for the first time, while earlier she just dreamt of only dancing like her. She says it was just some ‘Purva Janma Sukrutham’ that she shared stage along with her. “If I have to count all my blessings in my life, I will count my experiences with her zillion times. She was so generous, humble and empathetic, the respect she had for everyone is a gesture I think every artist should learn. The ambition of being a performer like her changed to be a good human being like her. The impact she created on a young mind like mine is very huge. And I don’t think there will be any artist like her for generations to come,” she says. Harshini recalls that the Legend was so humble that she would wait until they got into the car and only then she would leave.
The young dancer says that the kind of warmth and love, Late Sobha Naidu ma’am showered on her by giving lead roles in her dance dramas, she would always be indebted to her. Remembering Navarasa Natabhimini, where she performed for the first time as Parvati in Hasya Rasam, the chief guest applauded that Hasya Rasam was too good and he enjoyed it a lot. “After the performance, ma’am called me to the green room and asked if I knew that the chief guest had applauded me. When I said no, she immediately said I was looking for you all over, hence I called you to pass those appreciations.” One mantra of the Kuchipudi legend, Harshini wants to emulate is accept and respect co-artists or juniors without any resentment. “I will always cherish Sobha Naidu Garu’s compliment of my abhinaya,” she says.
Parents, Art Lovers: Harshini, who began learning dance under Guru B Sudheer Rao Garu in Warangal, says that her parents, art connoisseurs, initiated her and her elder sister into dance. But her sister discontinued due to leg injury, while she stayed put thanks to her Guru, parents and sister. After she moved to Hyderabad, on the advice of her Guru, she came under the tutelage of Guru Deepika Reddy Garu for four years. “The best thing that I learnt from Deepika aunty (whom I fondly called) is her perseverance. She never gave up on the art in spite of many hardships in her artistic journey. She emphasised on how important it is for a woman artist to be cautious of portraying certain movements and expressions and developed that conscious in me. Those four years of close association with her has changed my perspective of life to a different level,” says the engineering graduate.
The Kuchipudi dancer thanks Sudheer annaya for enriching her in dance knowledge. “After class, Sudheer annaya would come home to drop me and all of us (including parents & sister) would sit and watch old VCRs /DVDs or discuss upon Sudheer annaya’s experiences and learnings. He introduced Sobha Naidu ma’am through his stories about her abhinaya, grace and many more. By the time, I saw her she was my dream girl,” she says.