For the first time in Hyderabad, the LGBTQ+ communities were offered a space to present their art by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Government of India. This was titled Samantha, an event curated by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Samanvay, Shilparamam and the LGBTQ+ communities of Hyderabad.
The event was held at Shilparamam, Madhapur, in the august presence of diverse audiences. The Ethnic Hall at Shilparamam was the venue for a seminar on Breast Cancer awareness, customised and tailored for transgender persons by Dr Ridhima Bindlish, followed by an exclusive handloom and handloom accessories ramp show by people of the LGBTQ+ communities.
This was conceived and executed by Ms Sudha Rani, the handloom social entrepreneur of Abhihaara. The ramp show had on display the plural gender-fluid fashion of many hues from LGBTQ+ organisations viz. Mobbera and Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti, Telangana Hijra Transgender Samiti and many other individual LGBTQ+ persons and overseas students.
The ramp walk celebrated ethnicity, fashion and gender fluidity and pluralism, all on one platform. The show was compèred and hosted by Ms Madhu Chebiyam, an associate of Ms Rani.
The Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance performances in the evening were at the Amphitheatre. Beginning with Ganesha Stuti, Mx Patruni Chidananda Sastry presented a unique item where masks of Cherial and Patha Chitra were used with dance to convey the importance of traditional painting art forms.
This was then followed by a Javali. Sastry performed the whole Javali with stark and vivid reflections and reimaginations of self by a man, his emotions whilst cross-dressing in the privacy of his room in the larger context of societal non-acceptance.
There was also a Padam and Kuchipudi item, “Marakata Manimaya Chela”, which enthralled the audience. This was followed by a performance by transgender activist and Bharatanatyam danseuse, Ms Chandramukhi Muvvala. She presented Alarippu with crisp nritta and sharp technique of Bharatanatyam.
The next item was Bho Shambo where her performance also depicted Arthanariswara as one of the many forms of Shiva. Chandramukhi’s performance was immersing and marked by precision.
The ICCR empanelled artiste scheduled to perform Kathak that evening, Ms Devika Devendra S Mangalamukhi, could not travel to Hyderabad due to some personal exigencies. Consequently, the organisers were constrained to have Vaibhav Kumar Modi perform in lieu of Ms Mangalamukhi.
The final performance was by Mr Vaibhav Kumar Modi, who presented a Sargam in Kathak in Raag Bageshree in teentaal, a technical piece from the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak. The clean lines and strict tatkaar regaled the audience in the melody of his intricate footwork.
Thereafter, the Director of ICCR, Hyderabad, Sri Lakshmaji Rao Yesentarao Ji appreciated all the artists with certificates. He also thanked them, the international students, all the performers and the larger LGBTQ+ communities. Ms Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, transgender activist and art connoisseur from Hyderabad, concluded the evening with her note of thanks by urging the ICCR and the Government of India to bring in more such initiatives to include the LGBTQ+ communities and persons.
The entire dance event was very tastefully compèred and hosted by the very well known Mohiniattam danseuse and Malayalam actor, Ms Anita Peter. The gathering thanked her for her contribution.
Pictures by Chegondi Chandrashekar