Satish Patla: Taking Yakshagana global

Satish Patla: Taking Yakshagana global

Submitted by alvin on Thu, 2016-11-10 19:48 Innovations in Yakshagana have always been a challenge, as changes have to be made keeping in mind the age-old tradition. Yakshagana Bhagavatike, which was a high-pitched affair earlier, has now mellowed a little, with the addition of classical music form. Making waves in this format is 36-year-old Patla Satish Shetty, Bhagavata of 5th Mela of Kateel, Dakshina Kannada. Patla, who has performed across the globe and received accolades, is in Mysuru on a two-day visit to present Yakshagana Talamaddale under Yaksha Manjusha, Kulai. Star of Mysore (SOM) spoke to this Bhagavata (lead singer in Yakshagana Himmela) after his performance on Nov. 8. Excerpts from an interview. SOM: Bhagavatike. How did it start in your life?Patla Satish Shetty (Patla): I was born and brought up at Karopady village in Dakshina Kannada, which is like a birthplace for Yakshagana. My father Mahabala Shetty was an Yakshagana artiste. He has been organising month-long ‘Yakshagana Talamaddale’ at Hogenadu Subramanya Temple near our house during Simha masa - Suvarna thingalu (Aug. 15 to Sept. 15) every year for the past 20 years. Naturally, I developed an interest towards Yakshagana. I started learning Yakshagana Chendassu under Mambadi Subrahmanya Bhat and Seemanthur Narayana Shetty. I am also learning Karnataka classical music under Bhajakala Ganapathy Bhat and Yogeesh Sharma Ballapadavu.SOM: Which mela or troupe did you first work with?Patla: My professional journey started with Kateel Mela. For the past 17 years I have been the Bhagavata of 5th Mela of Shree Durga Parameshwari Dashavathara Yakshagana Mandali, Sri Kshetra Kateel.SOM: How do you manage to perform for other troupes being part of the busiest mela — Kateel Mela?Patla: Kateel Mela’s Tirugata will be for six months from November to May. During my free time, I accept invitation of other troupes. Even during Kateel Mela Tirugata, in which performances are throughout the night, I have gone and performed for others in the morning. There are times when I had to go and perform in Mumbai in the morning and return to Mangaluru in the night for the mela.SOM: Where have you performed till now?Patla: Kateel Mela is limited to only Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. Other than that I have performed in Delhi, America, London, Dubai, Kuwait, etc. SOM: In which language did you perform in foreign countries?Patla: I have done Bhagavatike in Kannada and Hindi while abroad with English subtitles displayed on the LCD screen. SOM: Bhagavata is said to be the director of the Yakshagana performances and Talamaddale. How do you prepare the team?Patla: Yakshagana is based on extempore dialogues. So there is no practice sessions as such. All the artistes in the team will be well-versed in padya (poems). So we just sit and decide which poems are to be taken up for the episode and perform on stage directly. Bhagavata should be sharp enough to follow the Mummela artistes and sing the poems related to the situation. College students perform on script but professional artistes perform with extempore dialogues and nothing by-heart.SOM: What do you think makes a successful Bhagavata?Patla: It is just a continuous learning process that leads a person to success. A Bhagavata should maintain raga and swara. He should take enough rest as he has to give support for long durations. SOM: Has the new adaptations in Yakshagana helped the age-old art grow?Patla: I cannot say if senior artistes accept it or not, but I believe new additions, like the classical touch, have definitely helped Yakshagana go global. Earlier, Bhagavatike was limited to only few ragas. Low pitch wasn’t suitable as mikes were not used and there are many other reasons too. But now with technical support, we can use classical form, ragas with low pitch also. With that, we can say we have succeeded in reaching more people. SOM: So classical music has enriched Yakshagana?Patla: In music, raga is prominent. In Bhagavatike, sahitya (literature) gets the importance. Yakshagana shouldn’t become a classical music concert but with additions from classical form, we can now adapt all ragas. Adaptations without putting down traditions in Yakshagana are always acceptable. SOM: Are there any institutions to teach Bhagavatike?Patla: There are no much institutions. Presently it is taught in Udupi Kala Kendra. Earlier it was taught in Dharmasthala but was stopped as there were not many students. My Guru Mambadi Subrahmanya Bhat takes classes at a few places.SOM: What are your plans to take forward this Karavali art?Patla: I want to take classes but with my busy schedule I am unable to do it now. As of now, I am leading Yaksha Dhruva Patla Foundation, along with my fans, which was formed a year ago to help senior Yakshagana artistes. So far, we have given financial aide up to Rs50 lakh to poor Yakshagana artistes. We also have plans to build 100 houses and provide them to needy Yakshagana artistes for free. Krishna J. Palemar (former Minister) has promised us to provide 5 acres of land. The budget of the project is around Rs10 crore. The Foundation has 25 units at various places including Delhi, Dubai and Kuwait.SOM: Lastly, your take on youth in Yakshagana?Patla: Ten years ago, there were very few youngsters taking up the art and it was said that Yakshagana is fading away from young generation. But today, we have many youngsters like Girish Rai Kakkepadavu, Ravichandra Kannadikate who are taking the art to greater heights and I am happy about that. [Patla Satish Shetty has also sung for Tulu and Kannada movies — In Kannada, he has lent his voice for the song ‘Kele Cheluve...’ (Rangitaranga) and yet to be released ‘Banna Bannada Baduku.’ Patla resides with his wife Nirmita and four-year-old son Hridhan in Dakshina Kannada district] [Courtesy: Star of Mysore]