Mangaluru, Sep 19,2017: Kubanuru Shridhar Rao, well-known Bhagavata (Yakshagana singer) from Thenkatittu Yakshagana form, who was presently the main Bhagavata of the fourth troupe of Kateel Yakshangana Mela, died following prolonged illness in Bengaluru on Sept 17, Sunday evening.
Coming from a family of musicians, the 60-year-old Rao made a mark in Yakshangana with his unique classical style of singing. Apart from his knowledge of ragas, Rao had strong grounding in mythology that made his renditions touch Yakshagana lovers. He was assigned “Bhagavatoottama” title. Rao came to be known as the successor of Bhagavata Damodara Mandechha.
Born in 1956 in Bhaagamandala, Rao was brought up in his grandparents place in Kubanuru. Though having a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, Rao developed interest in the Bhagavatike and pursued it as a career. Rao learnt Carnatic music from I. Raghu Master, while receiving good grounding on Maddale from Adkasta Ramachandra Bhat. He had training in dance from Uppala Krishna Master and Bekuru Keshav and gained knowledge of Bhagavatike from T. Gopalakrishna Mayya and Mambady Narayana Bhat.
Rao started his own Yakshangana mela and closed it because of financial constraints. He worked as Bhagavata in many melas, including Nandavara, Aruva, Bappanadu, Kadri and Kantavara. He was in the fourth mela of Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple for over two decades. He brought out Yakshaprabha, a newspaper related to Yakshagana, for the last 22 years.