The Department of Language and Culture mainly focuses on different approaches and strategies for the development of the art and culture of Telangana at a regional level within the State and out of the State with an aim to build ‘Brand Telangana’ through cultural means. Their main focused areas were classical, folk, tribal, modern, theatre, deccani art — painting, sculpture, photography, films, literature and festivals.
The Department is organising many workshops on various art forms where an expert from that particular wing trains the aspirants and then the Department also provides them a platform to showcase what they learnt. Their main aim is to protect and encourage the dying art and to take it further to gen next. Till date, the Department has identified 28,000 artistes and has issued an ID card for them and kept their details in their database. “The main aim behind giving ID cards and taking their details is, if there is a requirement of a particular folk art form, they will be just a click away, and we can help them by showing the opportunity,” says Mamidi Harikrishna, Director, Department of Language and Culture.
The culture of Harikatha and Oggu has become less as there are many temples owned by the Endowments Department. “We have asked the artiste to visit a temple every month and they have to perform one day, and the Department of Language and Culture pays them the Rs 10,000,” says Harikrishna.
Earlier, Ravindra Bharathi was meant only for octogenarians, bureaucrats and elite people. But now, it has become an adda for all those who aspire for any art form. Ravindra Bharathi is the first cultural venue in the country where a visitor can get a free WI-FI access for one hour once they enter the premises. The auditorium has been revamped with high-end acoustics.
“We have to encourage the youth as they are the future of this country, if we give an opportunity to them, they feel motivated and take the culture forward,” says Harikrishna.
Apart from staging performances, the Department also motivates youngsters in film making. For the promotion of cinema art and film education, this prestigious cultural venue gave space to young filmmakers and opened a preview theatre ‘Paidi Jairaj Preview Theatre’ where they can screen the film, and hold an interaction session. The Director of the Department took it up as a challenge as he aims to give at least 15 young film directors to the film industry. The concept of film education is helpful for aspiring filmmakers. Here, the movies are previewed and later a discussion takes place, where audience can express their doubts and seek clarifications.
The Department of Language and Culture, Telangana, tops among all in the country. It has received the prestigious SKOCH award, Zee Cine Award and Indy Award. And the director dedicates all these awards to the artistes of Telangana.
Contribution towards literature
In a span of five years, the Department of Language and Culture has published 50-plus books which means on an average one book in one-and-a-half months, no other State had done such a tremendous work, that too on different aspects of Telangana and its life.
Books have been brought out on culture, art, heritage, food, history, personalities, unsung heroes; they have not left a single topic on Telangana. No stone left unturned. To name a few, some of the well-known books that are published are Tolipoddu which talks about the poems of 442 poets of Telangana.
Manaku Teliyini Telangana, a compilation of various historical places which are lesser-known and unexplored along with photographs. Telangana Ruchulu, which talks about the cuisines of Telangana with its recipe book, Tharikullo Telangana, this is a compilation of date-wise important events, incidents that happened in Telangana in contemporary era. This book documented various developments that paved for the Telangana movement, etc.
Revival of Perini
After the fall of the Kakatiya dynasty following Pratap Rudra II’s defeat at the hands of Mohammad Bin Tughluq’s army in 1322 AD, the Perini art form got neglected. As the once powerful Kakatiya kingdom splintered into different fiefdoms, Perini’s patronage and support declined. Till 1980s, the dance form had not been revived for almost 700 years.
The classical dance form of Perini has been taught as a subject in government music and dance colleges for the past five years. For the first time, students got to study each nuance of the form in a syllabus formulated for a four-year certificate course.
“After the formation, we always wanted a dance which represented our State, so the first step we took was to revive Perini by identifying the Perini artistes. After many discussions, we procured the relevant audio, video musical records and documents related to the performance style and began to organise training camps and workshops on it. The Perini mega performance by 258 artistes at Lalitha Kala Thoranam in 2016 was part of that effort,” explains Mamidi Harikrishna.
The man behind many initiatives
Mamidi Harikrishna who has completed five years in the Department of Language and Culture as a Director, has many credits to his account. Had it not been for the painstaking efforts of Harikrishna, we would not have been seeing remarkable changes in the Department and its activities. It’s because of such art and culture lovers that many wonderful things are happening in Telangana and beyond.
“Initially when I took the charge, I thought of certain strategies to help and bring out unknown art forms, and I proceeded accordingly. Earlier, it was only the Ugadi festival that was celebrated for the entire year, but now, every festival is celebrated with pomp. The Department is omnipresent in every place, be it Kaleshwaram irrigation project, we are there, when Ivanka Trump came, we were present, we have extended our wings to every nook and corner in all wings and across State and countries, and all this was possible with the tremendous support and encouragement from our Chief Minister,” says Harikrishna who was a civil services aspirant during his college days.
In these five years, Harikrishna has redefined the word ‘culture’. Earlier, it was only performing arts like dance, music, and drama that came under culture category and were shown special privileges. After Harikrishna took over the charge, for the first two years, it was vigorous work of building up the strategies on how to work, plan and identify, and the definition has been totally expanded to many other folk arts forms.
Not to think only in a conventional way, what Harikrishna thought was, we must think beyond, act beyond, and do beyond, in an inclusive approach. “So, we included literature; second thing was, we highlighted food habits as many forgot that this plays a major role in everyone’s life. Then we focused on folk arts, rejuvenation of dying art forms, cinema, TV, theatre, tribal arts, rural history and transformation – with these initiatives, the word culture has become comprehensive now. We also encourage and give platform to the differently-abled and visually-impaired students also to showcase their versatile talent,” says Harikrishna, who has, till date, identified 56 ethnic arts of Telangana and has given a platform for them to perform.
Harikrishna, who is a public-friendly person, has documented each and every step taken by the Department. He reaches office at sharp 10 am and stays in his chamber till 10 pm. Quiz him when is his ‘me time’, the bachelor quips: “It’s between 11 pm and 2 am, when he watches classic movies, finishes reading his pending books and pens articles.”