April 11, 2021

Maya Krishna Rao on her mother Bhanumati Rao

Maya Krishna Rao, teaching faculty at Shiv Nadar University, noted theater director and artist, Kathakali dancer, writer, educator, activist, stand-up-comedian, founderMayaweb of popular street theater group, founder of noteworthy monologue WALK and someone who has achieved much more than that can be listed in a paragraph; speaks on her growing up years, her introduction to performing arts, her journey into motherhood and on her mum Bhanumathi Rao, an acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer and actor in Malayalam theatre.

It was a video that interested Mums and stories to reach out to Maya Krishna Rao. A video that has been viewed by lakhs of people and admired for the 92-year-old Bhanumathi Rao, performing a Bhartnatyam dance in Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan in Bangalore early this month.

” Dance was introduced to me by my mother as something which ‘you did’ in life. It was almost as a drive from her end to make me get into this art form. It was not meant to be a hobby or I don’t think she thought that it would be my career choice either. So quite unusually I was introduced to Kathakali in Delhi. We were a bunch of five students which was then a largely male dominated art form and my ‘guru’ decided for me to train me in male characters. This was a particular privilege granted to me and it opened up paths for me later.

My mother too loved and did theatre. Then, in my childhood I was trained in Kathakali during the summer holidays. There is a difference of parenting nowadays – how we tackle it and how it used to be earlier. For me, there was no choice- I simply had to obey my mother. And I am happy for it. But when it came to my daughter, I realized that it is better for her to choose and so when she decided to drop dance and take up art, she did and today Mimansa is a graphic designer.

My mum always has been into something that engaged her, be it theater, painting, dance, drama even carpentry! So I was, from a young age exposed to all the art forms. And then when I became a mother, it was for me a phase like other mothers where I started feeling anxious of when I would get time for myself. But as it turned out, having a baby to look after made me realize the preciousness time. So I would steal the time she slept to rehearse a new show. I think that’s one of the things motherhood did for me -made a more disciplined person out of a drifter.

My mother became a changed person when she moved to live in an ashram in her late 70’s. She actually learnt and imbibed and practiced the principles of Vedanta in her daily life. So much so, that someone who we sisters knew to be demanding in our childhood had learnt to enjoy life and allow people to be themselves. And I must say she is among those very few who at her age has never even once said ” People much younger than me are dying, why do I live on?” etc- the usual talk of people of her age. She is just incredible.”

Mums and stories has just one word to say for this mum-daughter duo- ‘Incredible’.

Seen in the photograph Maya Krishna Rao, her younger sister Tara and her mother Bhanumathi Rao.

We are also sharing the video of Bhanumathi Rao, a clip where she is performing the Bharatnatyam dance a day after she celebrated her 92nd birthday.


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