Our passion is always our first love, something everyone carefully shapes to reach the end of the tunnel. Suhasini Maniratnam is the latest to join that, she has gone back to her love after 43 long years – Bharatnatyam. It was in the year 1976, Suhasini had given her first Bharatnatyam performance.
At Sarasalaya’s 70th-year platinum jubilee event, Suhasini danced elegantly after that many years with the same grace and elegance. “I was 13 or 14 when I was brought from Paramakudi to Chennai by my uncle Kamal Haasan, and I lived under the care of my uncle and my grandparents. A couple of months later, I was made to learn Bharatanatyam from the late KJ Sarasa. I won’t say I was a very sincere student — I was more an athlete than a dancer — but my teacher was very strict and she made sure I learnt some four-five items. At the time, my grandmother was very ill, and she wished to see me perform. So, instead of an arangetram, arrangements were made for a performance at our Eldams Road home (which is now Kamal Haasan’s office) itself, with about a 100 guests invited. Since then, until this Sunday, I had not performed,” Suhasini mentioned.
It was danseuse Gopika Varma who suggested she perform again. She further added, “We do this dance show Anataram, but in that, I do only the acting part. So, she wanted me to perform pure Bharatanatyam.” The actress/director had to prepare for 12 days for this.
Interestingly, the makeup for the actress was done by the same makeup man who had done her makeup 43 years ago. “His name is Sethumadhavan, and he is an 84-year-old veteran. It was such a coincidence that this happened. In fact, I’d forgotten it, but he remembered the fact that he had done my makeup the first time. It was so beautiful to see him do the makeup. He has just one bag as his makeup kit and works wonders with it. In fact, he makes the makeup products himself, and they are environment-friendly, with no chemicals involved. Not just makeup, he also does hair and jewellery. Especially when you are dancing, wardrobe malfunctions can happen, and he is an expert in doing things in such a way that it doesn’t happen. I have been talking only about him since last evening,” adds the actress.
On asking how her husband and family members reacted to this, she said, “I did not show him my rehearsal, whereas my parents had seen it and were quite confident. So, he was very scared that I would miss something. He kept saying, ‘There is no Take 2, so I’m very worried for you.’ He was so concerned that way and it was very sweet.”