A versatile actor and professional Bharathanatyam dancer, Dr Sridhar made his debut into the world of cinema with Puttanna Kanagal’s 1984 drama ‘Amrutha Ghalige’. The critically acclaimed movie told the story of a teenager who finds herself alone when she reveals that she is pregnant to her lover.
Sridhar went on to act in several critically acclaimed films, Girish Kasaravalli’s ‘Bannada Vesha’ and T S Nagabharana’s ‘Santha Shishunala Sharifa Shareefa’. However, his first love has always been dance. “I always felt that dancing was somewhat of an inner calling for me. I started when I was about three years, but I only started my formal training after I turned 10. When I turned 16, I started training under Gurunadha Sridhar; he was the best guru I could have asked for,” he shares.
Along with Bharathanatyam, Sridhar also harbours a passion for theatre. “Amateur theatre had a very unpredictable schedule, and I found that lifestyle very difficult. I always made it a point to give my all to whatever I tried, and I never wanted my academics to suffer.” Along with theatre and dance, he managed to find other interests such as cricket and painting. While he was pursuing a degree in civil engineering, he began receiving attention for his performances. “When I started, professional male dancers were very rare. I was lucky enough to be
encouraged and appreciated.” He had hoped to make dancing his career, however, life had other plans for him. Kanagal who happened to witness the 23-year-old’s theatre performance offered him a role in his film.
A very picky actor, he made it a point to only choose movies that challenged him. “Never equate an opportunity to money or else it becomes all about the money. I craved to do quality work,” he advises. However, his passion for dance never died. “The film industry is unpredictable. Talent is not enough to survive here. I enjoyed theatre much more. I was yearning to go back to dancing. I had never stopped dancing.” To him, dancing has been a mode of relaxation as well as physical exercise. He used to plan his days to ensure that he had time to practise even with a busy work schedule.
In a world of entertainers, Sridhar hoped to become a torchbearer of tradition. “Classical dance deals with ancient knowledge. It gives one the opportunity to communicate these ideas to the audience. It is more than mere entertainment,” he adds. Now, the dancer is planning to act more
frequently. “I will continue to be choosy,” he adds.
After 1993, his steadily growing career graph started to slow down.
“I had to make a choice, and the choice was simple. Dancing has always been very important to me.” He used to practise daily for 16 to 17 hours. He would often wake up in the middle of the night, driven by the urge to dance. His mother who would wake up to the sound of his feet would stay up with him until he was ready to return to bed. “My mother always
has and continues to encourage me. She always believed in me,” he muses.
Sridhar and Anuradha tied the knot in 1991. The couple had met while studying under Guru Sridhar. About 10 years had passed when they met each other again. It was Sridhar, who had always maintained a soft corner for his classmate, thought of an alliance with Anuradha. “I had decided to make the switch before we got married. When I told her about it, she was very happy.”
The couple now performs together, as well as teaches at their dance school, ‘Khechara Academy Of Bharathanatyam’ at JP Nagar.
It seems only natural that a couple who placed so much reverence to the art form has inspired their daughter to follow in their footsteps. Anagha Gauri, 23, started dancing at the tender age of six.
“We taught her that this is not an easy field to be in. Even though she is academically bright, she has made up her mind to be a dancer,” he shares. She is also pursuing a MA Sanskrit course, which she believes will help deepen her
knowledge of Bharathanatyam.
She will be performing her Rangapravesha today, 6.15 onwards, at the JSS Auditorium, Jayanagar.