Pardon me for that salacious title, but I could not resist it. Last Saturday, my good friend Stephen Hughes the film historian and I went early in the morning to George Town. The pact was that he would show me some of the locations were silent films were screened and I would take him to the houses of some of the famous Devadasis and hence this title. As I learnt much that day and as business beckons, I will be brief, which is perhaps all to the good for the regulars at this blog (thank heavens not another mammoth post I can hear everyone say). I will also serialise the whole thing into three parts. The first is on the Devadasis. And so, here goes: Dhanammal’s house is just the same. Not yet demolished and still functioning as a godown.
The sweet and (not so) old lady who first identified the house for me and who once owned it is still going strong. We were not allowed into Dhanam’s house and caretaker made his refusal plainer by securing the door with a stout lock in case we forced our way in. But the house is still standing and that is great news.
Bangalore Nagarathnamma’s house is intact too! And it has been painted in all kinds of bright colours that surprisingly do not look out place.
In fact the paint made certain features stand out. It was thanks to Stephen that I noticed the rather Corinthian capitals of the rectangular columns at the two ends of the house and also the two idols that stood at the extreme ends. Could these have been put up by the redoubtable lady herself?
The present owners had bought the place ten years ago and were unimpressed when I told them of its history. What of Nagamma the old milk woman who had first identified the house? She has passed away since and may her soul rest in peace.
The sad news is that Madras Lalithangi’s house has recently been demolished. And so the birthplace of ML Vasanthakumari vanishes. Here is a pic of the empty site
The Draupadi Amman temple that Lalithangi worshipped in however thrives.
And then how could I forget Jalatarangam Ramaniah Chetty, the man who supported so many talented Devadasis, gave them concert opportunities and finally brought ruin on himself? His house is standing too. A close up of the terrace where innumerable and immemorial concerts must have been held is shown here
Was it Kshetrayya who said “Adi okka yugamu”?