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Sri Rama Namam – Entha Ruchi Ra – the dancer, the legend and the ballet

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Sri Rama

Sri Rama Namam – Entha Ruchi Ra – Senior Bharatanatyam Guru Ananda Shankar’s latest ballet drawsa inspiration from Bhakta Ramadasu keertanas – filled with Bhakti Rasa including the famed Ninda stuti beautifully emulated in her choreography – writes Anna Rao Gangavalli

Sri Rama

Ananda Shankar

Padmashri awardee Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant is one of the most versatile artistes in Bharatanatyam. She displays abundant creativity through her ballets and adds classical motifs to create a unique style, which is a delight to watch. Shankarananda Kalakshetra her dance school continues the legacy handed to Ananda by the renowned Rukmini Devi Arundale from whom she has learnt Bharatanatyam. With several branches in the city young talents are trained to reach the peak of their ability. By enabling her students to imbibe a legendary brand, she has been able to develop a corpus of students in different age groups who will adhere to a meticulous proficiency as their hallmark in this art form. Thus, a pool of talent is available for her to create wonderful artistic works where impeccable teamwork and split-second timing is a necessary requirement. Acting as a corps de ballet so to speak they can present demanding choreographical works of exceptional brilliance with ease.

Hence, her presentations are appreciated, emulated and sought-after all over India and abroad for the most prestigious festivals. Her intent to devote equal attention to costume design, lighting, jewellery and stage settings without compromising showcases her aesthetic sensibilities, which are of the highest degree possible. Her vast knowledge of the Epics, Puranas, Itihasas, Devotional Poetry etc. as well as contemporary culture enables seamless proficiency in her creative abilities to bring novel ideas to life through dance possessed of impeccable quality.

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The Legend: Bhakta Ramadasu is among the most well known devotees of Lord Rama in South India among the Saint Composers. Originally an employee in the royal administration of the Qutub Shahs he was the nephew of Akkanna and Madanna, the famous ministers. His great devotion to Rama compelled him to divert the revenue he collected for the Taneshah towards building a Temple for the Idols of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, which had been miraculously found but were in a neglected state. The overpowering desire and aim of his life was to construct a splendid abode for his beloved Rama at any cost. Though the temple was finished, his diversion of funds was severely punished by incarcerating him in prison.

His devotion expressed itself in exquisite compositions brimming with fervour. As long years passed despair overcame him and the divine Ninda Stuti berating his Lord emerged. He describes the Jewels he had offered and points out that it was not King Dasaratha or Janaka who had them made but this humble bhakta he has forsaken. The Lord who loves to test his devotees, moved by the melodious lament, appears with Lakshmana to return the amounts withheld from the King’s treasury to the Taneshah personally. The chastened Shah immediately hastens to prison and releases Ramadasu realising his greatness. He also contributes from then on the famous pearl offerings still continued in unbroken tradition at the yearly festival at Bhadrachalam.

The Creation of Sri Rama Namam – Entha Ruchi Ra– Several of Ramadasu’s most famous compositions were carefully selected to put together a matchless bejewelled ballet offering Sri Rama Namam – Entha Ruchi Ra on Friday evening at the CCRT amphitheatre in Madhapur by Ananda Shankar ahead of Ugadi and Sri Ramam Navami. That the flavour of the word ” Rama ” is so exceedingly delicious was delineated with superb effect. Lights arched through the air in kaleidoscopic patterns creating a tracery of transparent columns heightening the elegant costume’s embellishments. “Adigo Bhadradri” accompanied the process of building of the splendid Temple. Beautiful pictures of the Dasavataras were lit up in the background to colorful effect as “Entho Mahanubhavudavu” was enacted on stage.

The dancers formed myriad groups and portrayed the incarnations effectively with brisk nritta and radiant abhinaya. Quicksilver movements brought the events to life with clarity. Imagination rose to new heights as in the Prison sequence Ropes held by the students served as Walls behind which Ananda was the captive Ramadasu. “Ee Tiruga” , “Paluke Bangaramayyena” and “Nanu Brovamani ” echoed melodiously to culminate in the soaring crescendo of “Ikshvaku Kula Tilaka”. Ananda was matchless in her abhinaya denoting all the shades of emotion – devotion, grief and anger. Taneshah’s role was essayed by Pramod Reddy in befitting costume. Mangalam “Ramachandraya” was sweetly wafted through the air in conclusion.

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