Mangaluru: A video clip of an 18-year-old boy practising Yakshagana at his home has been doing the rounds on social media for the past few days. If you closely observe his leg, you will notice that one of his legs is actually a prosthetic!
Through this video, this young achiever has shown that where there is a will, there is definitely a way.
Manoj Kumar, a resident of Venoor used to watch Yakshagana shows during his childhood, getting more and more attracted to the folk dance with each viewing.
When he was in the sixth standard, Manoj suffered a small wound on his leg, which soon became gangrenous, leaving doctors with no other choice but to amputate the infected leg.
After the surgery, he read a book on Sudha Chandran, a dancer by profession, who excelled in Bharathanatyam despite having only one leg. An inspired Manoj decided to achieve something in his life and chose Yakshagana as his passion.
Even though the doctors advised him to use a walking stick, Manoj was not keen on using the same.
Meanwhile, his family managed to get him a prosthetic leg and even though he was unable to walk properly with it initially, he soon got adjusted. Now, he does all the works which a normal person could do.
Headmaster of the Venoor Government Highschool Venkatesh Tulupule, who was also passionate about Yakshagana, took note of Manoj's zeal for the folk art and took him under his wing. Later, Manoj studied Yakshagana under Ramesh Shetty Paddandadka.
As Manoj had a deepening interest in the folk art, he began learning Yakshagana Bhagavathike (playback singing) under the tutelage of Pramoda Andinje.
Now an active member of the 'Kalakara Havyasi Yakshagana Kalasangha, Venoor', Manoj has performed with Yakshagana troupes like Sunkadakatte, Bappanadu, Mangaladevi, Kateel, Jai Tulunadu Amateur Yakshagana troupes etc., when need.
It can be noted that even before the lockdown was imposed on the country, Yakshagana performances were banned as the administration wanted to prevent people from gathering, in a bid to curb the spread of the disease. While all the Yakshagana artists have been left without work, Manoj has been practicing his Yakshagana routine and dialogue delivery at his home.
A video of Manoj's dance practice, which was posted to social media by Sunkadakatte Yakshagana troupe artiste Jayendra Kulal, has gone viral. He can be seen performing the 'Dhigina' (jumping in Yakshagana), a tough task for a normal two-legged person to execute, with grace and ease.
Speaking to Newskarnataka.com Manoj Kumar said that he won't take up Yakshagana as a profession but a passion. "Due to many reasons, I could not complete my SSLC. I want do a diploma in electrical after my SSLC and find a job. Meanwhile, I won't leave Yakshagana as it is my passion," he said.
Manoj's father, Srinivas is a daily wager and his mother Mallika is a housewife. He has two sisters Manishaa and Manushri. While Manishaa is studying Yakshagana, Manushri is studying filmy dance alongside their academics.
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