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 What Is India News Service November 2, 2010

Abbakka Rani

The Queen of Spices

The Cast & Crew


·         Asia Centre Bangalore

·         Abbakka Rani – The Queen of Spices


About Us

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Aravind Sitaraman is a Computer Scientist is one of Cisco Systems leading innovators with 54 patents.

Since his relocation to India in 2000, Aravind has reestablished in Bangalore, a not-for-profit policy advocacy group founded earlier in the United States as “Prakash” in 1995. As part of these projects, he published several papers and tracts on strategic and social issues in various international fora and digitized all ancient South Indian inscriptions.  He has served on the Board of Studies of Anna University and PSG College in Coimbatore. Aravind currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Sivvakkami Ammal Memorial Trust an organization that patronizes the arts, culture, and heritage. Apart from ongoing activities, CLT, under Aravind’s personal supervision, built building a state-of-the-art school for tsunami victims in Nagappatinam District of Tamil Nadu. He is also the Executive Sponsor for Cisco’s flood relief Project Samudaya in Raichur, Karnataka.

His ongoing commitment to raise the platform for India and Indians in the global field provoked him to write and commission Abbakka Rani: Queen of Spices. This opera glorifies the first Indian freedom fighter against colonialism, who won world recognition for sinking the once undefeatable Portuguese Armada.

Aravind Sitaraman



Usha Venkateshwaran is a Dancer, Choreographer and Guru, with enormous international recognition in teaching traditional and contemporary dance and choreography.  After her return to India, Usha Venkateswaran set up the Institute of Choreography and Innovative Dance, ‘NATYALAKSHANA” in 1988. Some of her recent original productions are: Srishti, about cosmic and human creation; Bali Yatra, based on a medieval story linking ancient Kalinga and Bali; and Kalidasa’s Shakunthala. These productions have been staged worldwide receiving high acclaim. Usha is the author of the significant Monograph on “La Meri” published by The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi.

Usha studied Bharatanatyam from Guru Varalimalai Muthuswami Nattuvanar and Guru Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai and other dance forms from equally eminent gurus. She taught Dance and conducted dance education presentations and choreographed Dance dramas in cooperation with Fiji, Ethiopia, USSR, Syrian Arab Republic, Germany, USA and China. She is a GETIS (the State Institute of Theatrical Arts, Moscow) certified choreographer.

Usha Venkateswaran



Jayanthi is to Veena what fragrance is to a flower!


Through her sheer dedication, passion, perfection and dynamic but graceful performances, she has rejuvenated the art of playing the instrument and inspired many aspiring Vainikas to learn the art. Her music is a direct reflection of her persona, charming yet reserved, dynamic yet delicate, virtuous yet musical. Her performance is the delight of the layman and the connoisseur.


“Kalaimamani” Jayanthi has carved a distinctive style of her own that is at once soothing and powerful.

With her phenomenal creativity, she has conceptualized and composed scores for several musicals and dance ballets. Jayanthi recently completed her Doctorate in Veena on “Analytical Study of Different Banis and Playing techniques of the Saraswathi Veena” from the University of Mysore.


Jayanthi has won many accolades. She is a “A Top,” graded artiste: the highest grade given to any artiste by the only grading institution of the country-- All India Radio. Jayanthi is heir to the talent and melody that characterizes the Lalgudi legacy - a mantle that she wears with élan. Disciple of her maternal aunt Smt. Padmavathi Ananthagopalan, Jayanthi followed the traditional ‘Gurukula’ system of learning music and flowered into a concert artiste at the age of sixteen. She is also one of the select disciples of the Veena virtuoso, Dr.S. Balachander

Jayanthi Kumaresh



Kumaresh is the youngest violinist to be awarded the “Kalaimamani” title.  A musician, composer, director, researcher and teacher, Kumaresh is part of the duo “Ganesh-Kumaresh” with his brother the last thirty years.

Together with his brother, he is on a continuous search for the essential qualities of nature’s creative idioms by connecting seamlessly with his own inner creativity. Together, they have created a new form of expression in carnatic music system - Ragapravaham... music beyond language.


Trained by his father Shri T. S. Rajagopalan, Kumaresh is a veteran violinist who has carved a niche

for Indian instrumental music with impeccable and remarkable technique both in playing the instrument and in interpreting musical forms. His soul-stirring music brims with creativity while being soaked in classicism. His creativity is international in nature and his communication through music crosses all boundaries.




Chitra Arvind is Artistic Director of Rhythmotion Indian classical & contemporary dance company, teacher,

choreographer, performing artist.  Chitra was invited to work in London for seven years with leading contemporary dance choreographers including Shobana Jeyasingh, Wayne Mc Gregor, and Laurie Booth as a performer, teacher and rehearsal director. During her sojourn, she acquired skill in Kalaripayattu, Chhau, and Thang Tha. She has a degree in choreography from the Natya Institute of Kathak and Place Theatre, London. Using these qualifications along with proficiency in Carnatic vocal and veena, she has developed a deep and wholesome knowledge of her art. Chitra uses her unique technique to impart dance training to the hearing and speech impaired children of SKID.


She learnt Bharatanatyam under Guru Smt.Lalitha Srinivasan, Nupura Kathak, Guru Dr.Maya Rao, and Guru Smt.Chitra Venugopal. She learnt Kathak under Moulik Shah and Ishira Parikh of Ahmedabad.and Contemporary dance.

Chitra Arvind



Mysore Nagaraj is a Kathak Dancer and Artistic Director “Articulate.”  Nagaraj has performed worldwide in several of the choreographed productions of his various gurus with acclaim. He conducts workshops on appreciation of Indian Dances and Motivation Talks involving Visually Challenged people.


He received his initial training under Guru Smt Tapoti Sinha at Mysore. Later, he obtained senior diploma in Kathak, with distinction and junior in Tabala from Prayag Sangeeth Samithy, Allahabadh. He furthered his training under

Guru Dr Maya Rao and Guru Smt Chitra Venugopal at the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography Bangalore as also under Guru Sri Munna Shukla.

Mysore Nagaraj




Shekar is an acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer who received the “KALA KUSUMA” and “NRITYA KUVARA” awards.  He has participated in several dance festivals worldwide including the Hampi festival. He continues to explore dance as an art form, embracing its various traditions with enthusiasm.


He first trained under Guru Smt. Suparna Venkatesh and later under Guru Sri Dr.Sanjay Shantaram.

Shekar Raj





Soumya Sitaraman is the author of Follow The Hindu Moon, a comprehensive, fully illustrated practical reference on South Indian Festivals published by Random House India. The book captures the essence of tradition in contemporary narrative, providing the modern family easy access to traditional know-how and festival celebration. She is the award winning illustrator of Chachaji’s Cup, one of the Top Ten Children’s books for 2004 published by Children’s Book Press, San Francisco. She won the Skipping Stones Award, the Papertiger’s illustrator award and the book rated Bank Street College’s Best Books of the Year in the Top Ten Children’s books for 2004. Developed content for the Hindu Temple, Kauai, Hawaii, presented at the "Media & Religion" panel at the Melbourne Parliament of the Worlds' Religions, December 2009. Melbourne, Australia.

Soumya is on the governing board of Natyalakshana where she works on projects to develop classical dance awareness with the founder, Mrs. Usha Venkateshwaran. She is the co-founder and trustee of What is India Publishers, a non-profit India Information network. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, she founded Shakti: the first coalition of Contemporary artists of Indian Origin, bringing forth their vision and voices into the larger fabric of art in the Bay Area. She served in the Planning Committee for the Mexican Heritage Plaza (an institution recognized by the Smithsonian) and Plaza Art Gallery in San Jose. She was on the Museum Assessment Advisory Panel for History Museum of San Jose. She was appointed as panellist to select Fellowship recipients in the Visual arts for the Arts Council of Silicon Valley. For more information, visit



Usha Kris has developed her artistic photography over 40 years and has produced thought provoking and visually challenging images of her other interest, Nature. Her work was exhibited at The India International Center (New Delhi), The Center For Photography As An Art Form (Mumbai), The United States Information Service (Chennai), The Oberoi (Bangalore), and at the Indonesia exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Usha Kris’s work regularly features in several leading Indian magazines and books including, Chennai that is Madras, Kerala, and Vaastu. Usha Kris has documented several ancient monuments for the recently published book “The Hindu Temple.” She is a visiting lecturer at St. Xaviers College, Mumbai where she conducts a photography workshop every year and has been a guest lecturer at The University of California , Los Angeles (UCLA), California.

On special commission, Usha Kris created VCD presentations with her photographs of Export-oriented industries to be presented at European Trade Fairs.She has a dedicated monthly photo travelogue and feature, "The Road Ahead with Usha Kris" published by Eves Touch.. Her work has been published in The IWA Cookbook on Bharatnatyam and durries, "Chennai that is Madras," "The Senate House," "Kerala,” “Vaastu,” “The Hindu Temple,” and recently in "Follow the Hindu Moon" Usha Kris received the Bharat Nirman Award for excellence professional photography in 2002.



Deepa Shivanandan as Sita

Rupesh K.C as General Peixoto and dancer

Ujval as Admiral Mascarenhas

Aarti Mohan, Josaphine Savita ,Nagaraj ,Nishant Aravindakshan, Prasanna Kumar, Pawan Kumar, Rajesh and Vishwa

Translation into Kannada: M.R.Sathyanarayana

Sutradaara voice: Balaji

Lighting: Preetam Kumar

Make-up Kanakaraj

Brochure Design: M.B. Suresh Kumar







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