Radhika & Lakshmi – The Rhythmic Duo



By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: Two sisters – the older Radhika Achari beautiful, poised and collected and the younger Lakshmi Achari fiery, energetic, and charismatic performed their joint Odissi Rangapravesh at the Jewish Community Center the evening of June 28, 2014.  It is interesting to note that although the sisters performed their Rangapravesh together in the same dance style, they did it under the tutelage of two different gurus, Lakshmi under Guru Smt. Supradipta Datta, and Radhika under Guru Smt. Aparupa Chatterjee.

Lakshmi and Radhika started learning dance at the early ages of 5 and 6 respectively. Their first introduction to Indian classical dance was under the mentorship of Bharatnatyam dancer, Guru Smt Rathna Kumar. Radhika, who had begun learning from Supradipta had took a hiatus when she went off to attend Texas A&M University to pursue her undergraduate degree in psychology. It was there that she was able to find in Aparupa, a mentor who rekindled her old passion for Odissi.

Lakshmi, on the other hand, was not particularly interested in Odissi when she initially started accompanying her sister for the classes.  It was only when her sister moved away, that she came to her own and began to blossom as an Odissi dancer while simultaneously working on her high school graduation.

After the traditional Lord Jagannath puja, emcee Ratna Sinha, the girls’ aunt, charmingly and eloquently took us through the evening proceedings in her inimitable style.

The recital started with Mangalacharan, invoking the blessings of mother earth, the gods, the gurus and the audience.  This was followed by Aravi Pallavi, a beautiful tapestry of lyrical movements and typical sculpturesque poses performed by Radhika. Next, Lakshmi beautifully performed a pure abhinaya piece, “Patha Chhadi De” depicting the playful interaction between young Lord Krishna and Radha.

The next dance, “Ardhanarishwara” describing the contrasting yet complementary attributes of the masculine (Shiva) and the feminine (Shakti) energies of the universe and was wonderfully executed by Radhika performing the Shiva bhaava and Lakshmi performing the Shakti bhaava.

It was very heartwarming to hear teachers, relatives, friends, siblings, gurus, and the proud parents Arup and Ameeta Achari talk about the special places the two sisters hold in their hearts and share interesting anecdotes about both.



The second half of the program began with another Pallavi based on the raga Hansadhwani, performed by Lakshmi, who exhibited her mastery in speedy and intricate footwork. This was followed by “Lalita Lavanga Lata”, from Jaydev’s Geeta Govinda and Radhika performed the longing of Radha for Krishna and brought this dance to perfection. In the next performance, “Sri Rama Chandra Kripalu Bhajamana”, the rhythmic duo displayed many modern, innovative dance moves while highlighting the different facets of Lord Rama’s life.

The final dance, the “Mokshya Mangalam”, brought the evening to an end, an evening which epitomized and rewarded the immense hard work by the talented young Odissi students and their Gurus.

Special mention and thanks to Bhojan for the scrumptious meal, Piyal Sen Gupta for the colorful brochure, Shraddha Shah for the beautiful invitations, and Amitava Sarkar for photographing the event.

Photographer: Amitava Sarkar