All music and dance connoisseurs would be aware of the Prasads – Sweta and Renuka. They have been rocking Hyderabad, the country and the globe with their music. Their jugalbandi has been resonating for over two decades now. Natyahasini speaks to Sweta and Renuka on their beautiful journey in the art world.
Sweta and Renuka in unison say that their house reverberates with music and little Prasiddha too is adding her share. “We are lucky enough that both of us keep practising together, most of the day and hence better understanding of each other personally and as well as on the stage. It’s definitely a special feeling to be bonded for and by the art,” Prasads say.
The vocalist began her career at a young age of 12, when many are interested in fun & frolic. Sweta admits that this was the time when she met her husband and since then, they have travelled together and performed all over the globe. “I didn’t know that performing for dance would become my fulltime profession. I am at my best and blissful whenever I perform. I try to hold the rasikas spellbound, every time I sing. My journey till date has been wonderful. It is always special to be an artist,” says Sweta.
Math Same: Explaining the difference between jattis for Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, Renuka Prasad says that Math is the same for any dance form. “There are a few syllables in particular to each art form. Firstly, I compose the Math pattern and then incorporate the appropriate bols for the jathis,” he says. The mridangist says: “Kuchipudi has a faster pace when compared to Bharatanatyam. It is difficult for a layman to know the difference between the two. The experience of over 25 years has helped me in composing newer jathis.”
Sweta, with a twinkle, says she has a bass and heavy voice, “By God’s grace, it suits every dancer I perform for.” When asked to share the tempo of the finale in a programme, Prasads admit that it is a thrilling experience to go in line and pace with the dancer. “There are special moments where the dancer follows the ensemble. At times it is just done spontaneously which is a joyful and a thrilling experience,” they say in unity.
Quizzed on how many rehearsals before a stage performance, Sweta and Renuka state that lot of artists arrange rehearsal sessions before their concerts. They acknowledge that for a general performance, they are used to the regular songs that are being performed and just one or two rehearsals would suffice. “For an Arangetram/Rangapravesham, the child needs more experience and hence a greater number of rehearsals are done. For new ballets, there are many discussions and practice sessions that take place,” Prasads say. All dancers will agree that the couple’s audio recordings are quite popular.
Playing Nattuvangam: On challenges playing nattuvangam as per need, Sweta says that it is very rare that she does nattuvangam, but in the same breath agrees that it is definitely enjoying being creative. While Renuka Prasad admits that it is certainly challenging to do nattuvangam. “It is not just reciting syllables, but we have to manage the whole show,” he says.
For Sweta, music is music. “Singing for a music programme or a dance programme are totally different experiences. Thoroughly enjoy performing for both. Recording music is also a beautiful experience,” she says. On the other hand, Renuka Prasad also enjoys playing mridangam for concerts as well as doing nattuvangam for dance. “Both are amazing experiences,” he says.
Prasads have been part of the music ensemble of many popular dancers like Padma Bhushan Smt. Swapna Sundari, Padma Shri Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant, late Padma Shri Dr. Sobha Naidu, Smt. Dr. Anupama Kylash, Dr. P. Rama Devi,Smt. Chitra Narayan, Sri. G. Rateesh Babu to name a few. Apart from composing jathis for many dance ballets, the couple has worked on the audio cassettes of Bhamakalapam (Kuchipudi dance ballet) and Bharatanatyam Vol. 1&2, which has been released by Aditya Music. Both of them have composed and recorded many dance numbers which are popular in India and abroad. They have travelled extensively all over the globe and performed in all major sabhas of the country. Sweta’s ambition is to propagate the sublimely blissful compositions of revered Saint Annamacharya.