At one point of time, many legendary classical artists such as Dr ML Vasantha Kumari, DK Pattammal, MS Subbulakshmi, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, Lalgudi Jayaraman among others have all performed here, courtesy SICA.
For the uninitiated, South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) is one of the pioneer cultural associations today and its inception has an interesting graph. It all began after the formation of States on a linguistic basis, a large number of officers and employees were transferred from Madras Presidency (as it was called then) to the unified Andhra Pradesh’s then capital Kurnool, and later came to Hyderabad.
Until then, patronage for Carnatic music concerts and classical dance performances in the city was very limited. Only one institution – Krishna Gana Sabha, was functioning with limited resources and was organising music concerts on and off in King Koti. And, officials from the Madras Presidency were keen to attend music concerts, as many of them were connoisseurs of music. So, the need for a proper organisation or music sabha arose.
“A few art lovers came up with the idea of an association for the purpose, and subsequently, the South Indian Cultural Aassociation (SICA) was established on May 26, 1959,” recalls Chakrapani, who has been serving as the SICA secretary for the past 35 years.
For some time, SICA functioned from the residence of one of the office bearers in Hyder basti in Secunderabad. However, with the association building ground and with the help of N Seetharaman, IA & AS, a senior officer from Accounant General’s office, a room was allotted to the organisation at Lal Bahadur Stadium, which is their current location.
Between 1959 and 1961, a paucity of proper venues led to many SICA programmes being held at Lady Hydari Club, Basheerbagh, SD Hall, Ramkote, Balaji Bhavan open ground, Jamshedji Tata Hall, Secunderabad etc. When the prestigious National Theatre christened Ravindra Bharathi was constructed in 1961, SICA started holding concerts there on a regular basis. “In fact, it is heartening that SICA’s concert was the first programme to be held at Ravindra Bharathi after its inauguration,” says Chakrapani.
For many artistes, it’s a great privilege to perform for SICA. In fact, the organisation’s reputation is one of respect from music lovers in the city and artistes performing in their programmes are considered to have extraordinary talent.
“When compared to the yesteryear artists, the present crop of artistes are adjusting and understanding. The reason is simple; earlier they used to travel in buses and trains, now it has become more luxurious and they travel in flights and leave in a day,” says Chakrapani.
Like any other organisation, SICA too has its own issues. “We are unable to get a permanent venue, despite many applications to different governments. We are also looking to bring in the younger generation in the workings, as they are the ones who will take the culture forward,” says Chakrapani. For SICA, this year is a celebratory one as it completes 60 years. Till date, it has organised numerous musical and dance programmes, felicitated many eminent artistes and regularly conducted classical music competitions for youngsters to create interest in the traditional art form. “Till 2018, the lifetime membership fees was Rs 5000, but from January 1, 2019, we made it to Rs 10,000,” concludes Chakrapani, who claims that most of the managing committee members are voluntarily serving the organisation regardless of monetary benefits.