An Interview Senior Veeragase Artist G.P. Jagadish
Veeragaase is a dance form prevalent in the state of Karnataka, India. It is a vigorous dance, based on hindu mythology and involves very intense energy sapping dance movements. “Highly energetic” is the ideal way to describe this dance form. The energetic and powerhouse performance by the dancers combined with the ear-shattering sounds of sambala is sure a success at any utsav or local fair. Folk historians believe that the name of the form veeragase has been derived from the style of wearing kacche or dhoti by veerashaivaites. Veeragase is performed at all major occasions such as house-warming, marriage, naming ceremony and several other festivals. The dance form mainly started to support and spread the message of a dharma, but now this has become more of an entertainment value. The dramatic elements of narrating the story, vibrant attire and makeup, unique instruments and fast paced dance sequences has ensured the popularity of the dance form.
SENIOR VEERAGASE ARTIST G. P. JAGADISH
Among the senior folk artist who have made Karnataka proud with their discipline and dedication is Veeragase Veteran G.P. Jagadish. He was born in the year 1934 to Puttappa and Nanjamma. He was a tailor by profession but gave up his work and made his passion as profession. The 84-year-old’s energy when he plays the sambala is unbelievable, his dexterity and control are unmatched. He is a regular akashavani and dooradarshan artist. The troupe “Veeragase Kala Sangha” started by Jagadish in his own town “Giriyapura” has completed sixty glorious years. They have had the privilege to perform at various prestigious platforms like Mysore-Dasara, Rajyotsava-Delhi, SAARC conferences, India-China cultural exchange programme, India-Russia festival, Karnataka-Goa festival, Afro-Asian games Hyderabad, and many other programmes in Kolkata, Mumbai, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands etc.
The troupe was appreciated by the former President of India for their performance at the ‘Poolavalonke Seher festival’ in 1990-91. They were also appreciated by the former Chief Minister of Karnataka Sri. Ramakrishna Hegde. G. P. Jagadish has been bestowed with the “Rajyaprashasti” by Karnataka govt. in the year 2011, Janapada and Yakshagana Academy award, by the govt.of Karnataka in 1990 etc. (Above excerpts compiled from Article “Folk Forms of Karnataka- Veeragaase” written by Sneha Nandagopal for Drishti)
When did you start learning Veeragase? Whom did you learn from? I was 10-11 year old when I started learning this art form. Initially I learnt under the tutelage of a folk artist Muddegowda Chandrappa. Later I learnt and improved by observing other artists.
What influenced you to learn this art form? During a festival I had been to a local fair where I saw this powerful performance and became very interested in it. When we had an opportunity my friends and I in the village requested a teacher to come and teach us. That was the first experience, later I watched a lot of performances and began to grasp the best and learnt from that.
For how many years have you been teaching? I have been teaching for almost 60 years, I have trained over 150 students in all aspects of Veeragase like dance, prahasana, playing the instruments and make-up.
How did you get to start Veeragase Kala Sangha in Giriyapura? When we had learnt the form, we started our own Sangha. Initially we had few problems, mainly financial. We ourselves raised the money and started it without any support. Now we have completed 60 years successfully.
What is the difference between Veeragase, Veerabhadra Kunita and Puravantike? They all have the similar ideology; they are similar in many ways. In fact there is no difference between Veeragase and Veerabhadra Kunita. May be in number of people performing differs. In Puravantike steps aren’t given much importance; they are not crisp. Puravantike is danced in a slower pace. Veeragase is very dynamic and very powerful. Even in costumes there are lot of differences between Veeragase and Puravantike.
As Veeragase is a Karnataka folk dance form how was it received in different regions? We were received very well. We used to have translators to translate the mythological story of the Veeragase. We have been appreciated and received very well.
Do you think art has changed over the period of time? Yes. Before it use to be very raw with no particular steps and body language. Now there is lot of improvement. In recent period of time we have been encouraged by the government.