As a part of the weekly ongoing series of art talks being organised by Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK), art talk – on ‘Building Inclusive Society Through Art – Part 2’ was held. The session was attended by members of the transgender community. This included – T Rajakumari, Manjamma Jogathi, Devendra Manglamukhi and Sagar Tumakuru. They were in conversation with – Director General, JKK, Ms. Kiran Soni Gupta and anchor, Ms. Saleha Ghazi.
Talking about their journey as a Kathak dancer, Kathak exponent, Devendra Manglamukhi said that they came across many challenges in life, had to hear hurtful comments from people and withstand a lot for a career in this field. When they was 9 years old, they went to attend a lecture by Padmabhushan, Dr. Uma Sharma. Upon hearing Dr. Sharma produce the sound of the one ‘Ghungroo’ using one leg, the artiste was immensely inspired. It was here that Manglamukhi decided to begin their journey in Kathak and give their all to the dance form. Manglamukhi has been performing onstage since 2006.
Bharatnatyam transgender performer, T. Rajakumari said that they liked to dance Bharatnatyam from age of 10 years old. However, because their family was very poor they unable to attend dance classes. Rajakumari found a dance master in Shanmugam and had the opportunity to learn dance free of cost. They went to many places to dance but most people gave no chances. Colleges refused to give attendance to any dance class and no one offered any encouragement because they belonged to the transgender community. Currently, Rajakumari has their own dance academy in Chennai which was started in 2016. The academy has 35 students out of which 3 belong to the transgender community.
President of Karnataka Folk Arts Academy, Government of Karnataka, Manjamma Jogathi said that till Class 10th they led a normal after which her instincts kicked in and they took ‘Diksha’ from ‘Yelamma’ and developed their career the regional ‘Jogati Nritya’. Manjamma used to sell ‘Idlis-Vada-Dosa’ at bus stands and railway stations and in the evenings they would teach dance to students and contribute towards enrichment of ‘Jogati Nritya’. However, due to not getting opportunity to perform they along with members of their community approached the Government to give this dance form a platform. Once onstage their dance was much appreciated and Manjamma started road shows and transformed the dance into a stage pattern. With their current position, Manjamma will make efforts to identify other artistes of the transgender community and approach the Government for grant to offer training to around 400 transgenders in an art form of their choosing. The speech was interpreted by Mr. Sagar Tumakuru.
Director General, JKK, Ms. Kiran Soni Gupta said that the people need to understand how to create an inclusive society. Every person in the society deserves a platform to showcase their talent and a suitable recognition. There is a need to join hands to make this vision a reality.