Dance was her passion, so she took up Kuchipudi at the age of four and represented India in many places across the world. Aruna Bhikshu is a well-known name in theatre arts, and industry as she is considered a benchmark in her field of activity. The doctorate is also an associate professor in the Department of Dance in the University of Hyderabad.
“My journey into dance started because of my mother Kamala, who was a veena player. She used to hum songs at home, and I used to dance. She noticed me dancing and checked with a few people known to her about dance school.
Luckily, we heard about a master who came down to Hyderabad from Kuchipudi who was willing to start dance classes. So, my mother thought of giving some source of income to the master through a dance academy and with that intention she started Lalitha Kala Nilayam,” shares Aruna, expressing her happiness that the institution provided a platform not only for her but also many others to learn Kuchipudi.
Aruna’s life journey revolved completely around dance. She used to travel to various places and perform; and so found it tough to balance education and dance. “In those days, people used to not take dance as a serious profession.
But my mother stood by me and asked me to focus more on it. While pursuing my degree final year, I was worried about my Master’s but my elder brother who was doing his Master’s in University of Hyderabad gave me the good news that the Central University is offering Master’s in dance. That is when I saw my future quite clearly,” says this BA Sanskrit gold medallist.
Aruna grew up watching these socio-cultural assimilations happening and that is why she wanted to bring about this awareness on Kuchipudi.
Talking about Telugu dance traditions, a topic which she chose for research, Aruna says, “We say the classical dance forms of India are Sanskritised and Brahminical traditions. But, if we actually look into their history, we can see that multiple cultures have been flowing through them.
The rulers of the Golconda kingdom went beyond religion and gave a settlement area to Kuchipudi artistes in Krishna district. The dance form actually gets its name after this village that was gifted by the Muslim ruler. The performers had even incorporated a lot of Urdu and Persian words.”
Talking about her venture into the film industry, she says people who get into the field should have constant practice, and they can only achieve something when they have patience. But, people these days want everything in a short span, she adds.
“My husband Bhikshu, who is already into theatre arts, started acting classes along with me for a limited number of people. We don’t teach everybody; we have an aptitude test for the actors who come to us for training. Acting is not at all easy,” says Aruna who has donned many hats as a playwright, director, and actor, and has been an acting trainer for many leading Telugu stars such as Ileana D’Cruz, Ram Charan, Jr NTR and others who went to her for acting classes.
“Basically, I’m a Hyderabadi so languages were never a barrier for me. I can speak and write English, Telugu and Hindi which enabled me to communicate with anybody wherever I go,” concludes the artiste.