Late Sri Tanguturi Surya Kumari
Late Sri Tanguturi Surya Kumari
Patrons in restaurants and outdoor cafes would pay extra if their meal was accompanied by Surya's songs, and passing traffic would stop until a song had finished. Maa Telugu Talliki…. Her presence was a major attraction at meetings of the Indian National Congress, and her recordings reached rural areas unvisited by politicians. Even today, her most famous song, Maa Telugu Thalli (in praise of her mother tongue), is sung at the start of social functions in her home state of Andhra. Indian Cinema to Hollywood Altogether, Surya appeared in some 25 Indian films in the 1940s and 1950s, singing and acting in a variety of languages, including Telugu, Sanskrit, Tamil, Gujurati, Hindi and English. This 1952 'Miss Madras' had her film admirers too, for her films like 'Raithu Bidda' (1939), 'Bhagyalakshmi' (1943), 'Krishnaprema' (1943), 'Maradalu Pelli' (1952) and Hindi films 'Watan' (1954), 'Udan Khatola' (1955). In the mid-1950s, she made her first visit to America, as a member of a delegation from the Indian film industry invited to Hollywood by the Motion Picture Association of America (though union regulations precluded her from film work there). Learning western classics and research on Indian stories In 1959, she went to New York to teach at Columbia University, and also to add to her skills by studying western classical and popular dance forms. On her arrival, she appeared on television alongside the Indian ambassador and sang Indian songs. She then appeared as Queen Sudarshana in Rabindranath Tagore's The King Of The Dark Chamber (1961) and won the Off-Broadway Critics' Award for Best Actress. She had an acquaintance with the great Alfred Hitchcock.
She also took the role of Princess Chitra in the dance production of Tagore's Chitra for CBS, and researched Indian stories for Alfred Hitchcock. Journey to London In 1965, Surya travelled to London, and her life changed again. Scheduled to play the Goddess Kali in Kindly Monkeys, a new play at the Arts Theatre, she decided at the end of the run to stay on and found India Performing Arts, a project to train performers and mount productions. Annual performances by Surya herself, her students and fellow artists followed at the Purcell Room, in the South Bank Centre, for the next 40 years. She established 'India Performing Arts' at Kensington, England, to train the English in Indian performing arts. Quennching the thirst of aestesism with Harold From 1973, Surya was supported in her work by her husband, Harold Elvin, poet, painter and potter, reading his poetry and telling his stories as she sang and played the tanpura and sitar. Something of the flavour of these gatherings may be gained from the programmes for two events in 1982, with schoolchildren appearing alongside Ben Kingsley in Homage To Mahatma Gandhi, and Larry Adler's harmonica improvisations (complemented by Surya's instrumental accompaniment) in An Indian Pageant. Surya's political commitments were engrained in all her work, whether as chief singer at the Gandhi centenary commemoration at St Paul's cathedral in 1969, or with the Hordaland Teater of Bergen, for children in Norway, with whom she worked from 1991 to 1998. He predeceased her.
Tanguturi Suryakumari, a singer, actor and dancer, passed away on April 25th, 2005. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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