Dance festival held in
An Indian dance festival, Nrithya Samarpanam, was held at the Sri
Venkateswara Swami Temple in
Aurora, Illinois, June 8-9. The
more than 150 participants
included members of Midwest
dance schools and visiting
troupes from across the country
and India. A highlight was a
performance by J Surya-narayana Murthy, a seventh-generation performer-teacher
belonging to one of the 15 original traditional Bhagavatula
families of dancers and teachers
from Andhra Pradesh’s Kuchipudi village.
A Bharata Natyam performance by Sujatha Srinivasan,
artistic director, Shri Kalaa
Mandir, and Shriya Srinivasan,
was another highlight.
Students of Vanitha
Veeravalli, artistic director,
Bharatam Academy of Dance
Arts, also performed Bharata
The emcees were cultural
committee members Srilak-shmi Dronamraju, Shree
Gurusamy and Nalini Yedavalli.
play looks at
A snapshot from the festival
Arizona real estate body
fetes Kuldip Verma
The Arizona Real Estate Awards has conferred its Philanthropist of the Year 2013 award on Kuldip Verma,
founder and chief executive officer,
Vermaland, LLC, one of the largest land
owners in Phoenix, Arizona.
Verma Legacy Trust, a Vermaland subsidiary, recently made charitable donations of real estate worth $1.2 million —
through the Verma Charitable Foundation
— at the Arizona Community Foundation.
The gift will be used to establish scholarships for underprivileged students and to
build a religious retreat center in the
Phoenix metro-area with facilities for yoga
Kuldip Verma and his wife Binu Verma
are trustees of the Verma Legacy Trust.
Their daughters, Anita Verma-Lallian and
Jennifer Verma, established the Verma
The foundation, said Jennifer Verma, “is
the product of Vermaland’s ongoing com-
mitment to helping the community in as
many ways as possible.”
Verma has been involved in charitable
efforts ever since the success of his compa-
ny, which he started more than a decade
ago. In the past he has contributed
$40,000 to the Hindu Temple of Arizona
and more than $10,000 to the India
Association of Arizona. Vermaland is a
wholesale buyer and seller of land and cur-
rently has the largest holdings of 50-1,200
acre parcels in Metro Phoenix. The Arizona
Community Foundation is a statewide fam-
ily of charitable funds that is among the top
25 community foundations in the nation
with more than $500 million in trust and
Verma came to the US in1991. In 1987, he
was awarded the Udhyog Rattan Award in
electronics, presented by the vice president
of India, for his accomplishments at Beltek,
a family owned television business.
Recently he has won a lifetime achievement
award from Ira A Fulton, the founder of
Tempe-based Fulton Homes.
common man. And how people from a bank guard to a
businessman, a professor and a restaurateur dream of a
free India and life after.
The play is set on August 8, 1942, the day Gandhi
launched his Quit India movement against the British.
At the same time, a group in people in Bihar plotted a
campaign to blow up a bridge to show their solidarity
with the freedom movement. In his play Saraf aims to
show how complex the struggle against the colonialism
was, and the roles of the Communists and the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh over and above those of the Indian
National Congress and the Muslim League.
“In the play everyone was pursuing their self-interest
and sometimes doing other things motivated by nobler
thoughts,” Saraf told India Abroad. “1942 was a move-
ment, and a genius like Mahatma Gandhi, carried
everybody along with him. There were people who
believed in him and those who didn’t. In any large
organization or campaign there are some who believe
in a campaign fully. But there are many who don’t.”
The play is based on the true story of the 1942
Keezhariyur bomb case in Malabar, Kerala, though
Saraf shifted the location to Bihar. He first staged the
play in 1998. This time he opted for an older cast.
“The cast is more mature and, hopefully, I am more
mature… but the script is the same,” said Saraf, who
played the role of a Congress acolyte who hoped to
get some position for himself if India gained independence.
The Bihar-born engineer got interested in theater
while studying at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. He said in India he used to participate in a theater group outside the college along with a close friend,
but things changed once they completed their studies.
“We lost touch and later, coincidentally, we found
ourselves in neighboring universities,” he said. “I was at
University of California-Berkeley and he was at
Stanford. We (thought) it would be lovely to recreate
our theater days and we decided to stage a play.”
They put together Naatak in 1995. February 16, 1996,
they staged Khamosh, Adalat Jari Hai by noted Indian
playwright Vijay Tendulkar.
Since then Naatak has hosted three shows a year and
has 300 members, 50 of them registered. Most of
Naatak’s work is done during the weekends and
evenings. For Vande Mataram, the team worked for
eight weeks, rehearsing for about 10 hours a week.
Saraf’s next production, God of Carnage by Yasmina
Reza, is to be staged in October.
Present in the audience were dedicated Naatak fans.
“They did a great job,” said Vinata Karra. “I watch
every play of Naatak and they come up with a very orig-
inal script. I like it because they have maintained their
Sarna Keswani, another Naatak follower for the past
10 years, said she missed Indian theater and Naatak’s
performances brought those memories back.
“I still remember going to Prithvi Theater in
Mumbai,” Keswani said. “Naatak performers are excellent, and I have a lot of respect for them.”