Sayee–Subbulakshmi

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Sayee and Subbulakshmi as they appear in Naya Sansar (1959), Hindi film

Sayee and Subbulakshmi, popularly known as Sayee–Subbulakshmi, were two Indian female Bharatanatyam dancers who performed on stage in South Indian and Hindi films. They were a twin dance duo and were popular during the 1950s and 60s.[1] They were noted for their synchronised dancing. They also performed Kathak and folk style dances in some regional language films and Hindi films.

Family[edit]

They hail from a very large family whose members are well connected to the film industry. They are the descendants of Panrutti Adilakshmi, mother of Carnatic singers P. A. Rajamani and P. A. Periyanayaki, who were popularly known as the Madras Sisters (Not to be confused with the Madras Sisters (Sashi, Kala, and Mala). They had also featured in Tamil films in various roles. P. A. Periyanayaki was also known as a playback singer. Lux soap beauty R. Padma, who featured in the 1941 comedy film Sabapathy is the mother-in-law of Sayee. Sayee is the daughter of P.A.Rajamani and Subbulakshmi is P.A.Rajamani's maternal first cousin.

(Note: Sayee is said to be the daughter of P. A. Rajamani and Subbulakshmi, who is 3 years older to Sayee, is her cousin. This could not be confirmed. However, both of them are closely related and belong to the same extended family.)

Dance training[edit]

Sayee (L) Guru Muthuswami Pillai, Subbulakshmi

Muthuswamy Pillai is a dance teacher[2] who has choreographed dances for films since 1938. P. A. Periyanayaki approached Muthuswami Pillai when he was choreographing a dance for B. S. Saroja in the film Inbavalli at Salem Ratna Studios. She requested him to train her niece Sayee and her cousin Subbulakshmi in dancing. Muthuswami Pillai accepted. He stayed with the family so that he could give exclusive training to the two. Sayee was about 5 years old at that time and Subbulakshmi was 3 years older. He made both watch dance performances by Kumari Kamala.

The two girls had a rigorous training - 3 hours in the morning and another 3 or 4 hours in the evening. Muthusami Pillai trained them for 7 years in between his film assignments. He took classes whenever he was in town.

Sayee and Subbulakshmi were trained in Kathak dance by Gopi Krishna, who was a dancer and the choreographer for the famed Hindi film Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje.

Arangetram and Introduction to films[edit]

Sayee and Subbulakshmi had their Arangetram on 14 September 1953 at R. R. Sabha Hall in Chennai presided over by Rajah Sir M. A. Muthaiah Chettiar.

Within a year they had their first performance in the 1954 film Malaikkallan. The film was produced in 6 languages that opened opportunities far and wide for this dancing duo.

Apart from dancing, they have also featured in minor roles in some of the films they danced in.

Since 1954, they have performed in many South Indian regional films and Hindi films.

Bharatanatyam performances[edit]

They held stage performances as well. When Sivaji Ganesan built a new house Annai Illam at Thiyagaraya Nagar in Chennai, the Bharatanatyam performance by Sayee and Subbulakshmi was the main item during reception.

Style of dancing[edit]

murumandi (half-seated) position in dance from the film Malaikkallan

The duo were felicitated by N. S. Krishnan as Pambara Sahodarigal (Spinning top sisters). The speed, precision, flexibility, springing leg movements coupled with the synchronisation made them a unique pair.

Dance Teacher[edit]

After the 1960s, the trend in Indian films underwent a radical change and the type of dances performed by this duo went unnoticed. Subbulakshmi taught Bharatanatyam to students. She was felicitated with the Kalaimamani award in 2000 for her services as a teacher.

Personal life[edit]

Sayee was married to V. S. Santaram, eldest son of Lux beauty R. Padma. They have a son. Sayee suffered from breast cancer and died on 26 January 2010.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Language Song Choreographer Music Director Singer/s
1954 Malaikkallan Tamil "Neeli Magan Nee Allava"
"O Amma O Ayya"
Muthuswami Pillai S. M. Subbaiah Naidu P. A. Periyanayaki
1954 Aggi Ramudu Telugu "Rara Yasoda Nandana"
"Paalaveroy"
Muthuswami Pillai S. M. Subbaiah Naidu P. A. Periyanayaki
1954 Ratha Kanneer Tamil "Kathavai Saathadi" Muthuswami Pillai C. S. Jayaraman M. L. Vasanthakumari
1955 Azaad Hindi "Aplam Chaplam"
"O Balliye Balliye"
Hiralal C. Ramachandra Lata Mangeshkar & Usha Mangeshkar
1955 Doctor Savithri Tamil "Naayagar Patchamadi" Muthuswami Pillai G. Ramanathan P. A. Periyanayaki & A. P. Komala
1955 Gomathiyin Kaadhalan Tamil "" Sohanlal
K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai
G. Ramanathan P. A. Periyanayaki
1956 Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum Tamil "Naama Aaduvadhum Paaduvadhum" K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai & A. K. Chopra S. Dakshinamurthy Swarnalatha & K. Jamuna Rani
1956 Chori Chori Hindi "Man Bhawan Ke Ghar" K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai & Gopi Krishna Shankar Jaikishan Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle
1956 Thaikkupin Tharam Tamil "Naadu Sezhithida" T. C. Thangaraj K. V. Mahadevan M. L. Vasanthakumari
1957 Karpukkarasi Tamil "Vizhiyodu Vilaiyaadum" P. S. Gopalakrishnan G. Ramanathan M. L. Vasanthakumari & P. Leela
1957 Makkalai Petra Magarasi Tamil "Malliyakka Malliyakka Engadi Pora" Hiralal & P. V. Balaram K. V. Mahadevan Jikki, K. Jamuna Rani & A. G. Rathnamala
1957 Sharada Hindi "Joru Ka Ghulam" Hiralal & Sathyanarayana C. Ramachandra Asha Bhosle & Shamshad Begum
1958 Mangalya Bhagyam Tamil "Nenjathile Achcham" Chinni-Sampath G. Ramanathan M. L. Vasanthakumari & P. Leela
1958 Periya Kovil Tamil "Aathaadi Thallaadha Thaathaavai" P. S. Gopalakrishnan K. V. Mahadevan K. Jamuna Rani & L. R. Eswari
1959 Kan Thiranthathu Tamil "Panam Kaasu Padaichaale" Muthusamy Pillai
Jayaraman
T. R. Rajagopalan P. Susheela & S. Janaki
1959 Orey Vazhi Tamil "Kalvi Kalvi Endru Paadu" K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai R. Govardhanam M. L. Vasanthakumari & P. Leela
1959 President Panchatcharam Tamil "Oli Padaitha Kanninaayi" Muthuswami Pillai G. Ramanathan M. L. Vasanthakumari & (Radha) Jayalakshmi
1959 Sivagangai Seemai Tamil "Muthu Pugazh Padaitthu" K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy S. Varalakshmi & (Radha) Jayalakshmi
1961 Sati Sulochana Telugu "Jai Jai Jai Meghanaadhaa" Vempati Chinna Satyam T. V. Raju K. Jamuna Rani & S. Janaki
1963 Arivaali Tamil "Vaazhiya Needoozhi" P. S. Gopalakrishnan S. V. Venkatraman (Radha) Jayalakshmi & P. Leela
1963 Bharosa Hindi "Dhadka Ho Dil Dhadka Guzra Gali Se" Gopi Krishna Ravi Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vintage Heritage Club to pay tributes to four legendary dancers". Times of India. 20 June 2017. Archived from the original on 25 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Thirai Nadanam -Kaala Chulatchiyil Nadana Kalai" [Art of Dancing in changing times]. tamil.thehindu.com (in Tamil). 27 January 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.

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