A man of many hats

The founder of celebrated Indian arts society Soorya Stage and Film Society has an unlikely background.

Coming from a family of engineers, Mr Soorya Krishnamoorthy followed the family tradition and studied engineering in college. Graduating in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in engineering, he found employment the following year in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), where he worked for 27 years under noted scientists C.R. Sathya and Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

"Both were culturally inclined," said Mr Krishnamoorthy and, because of that, his experience in the ISRO "has only contributed towards my growth in the cultural scene".

Art and science complement each other, he added. He explained: "Both science and art are searching for the same thing: Truth. If science is searching for the truth in outer space, art searches for the truth in the inner mind."

"They are not different," he went on. "One complements the other. Any music is governed by rhythm. Rhythm is nothing but mathematics. Mathematics is science, music is art. Cinema is a technical art. Drama is a technical art. Science and art combine everywhere."

In an e-mail interview with tabla!, Mr Krishnamoorthy explained that Soorya Stage and Film Society was founded 38 years ago as an offshoot of Chitralekha Film Society, which was founded by director Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

"But from day one, we had music, dance and other forms of fine arts, along with films," he added.

Since it was founded, the society has grown to become the largest cultural organisation in the world, with chapters in 39 countries, including Singapore. It also hosts the Soorya Festival, which is one of the longest-running arts festivals and India's most prestigious.

Commenting on the arts scenes in India and Singapore, Mr Krishnamoorthy said: "Art doesn't have any barriers or boundaries. Real artistes think alike in any country."

The same principle can be seen in the performances that he conceptualises and directs.

Audiences in Singapore are in for a treat as the Singapore Malayalee Association's Onam Nite 2015 on Sept 13 features a performance that he has conceived and directed.

For the first time, the Bharatham Keralam performance brings together 15 different art forms from all over India, with 50 performers - all experts in their respective fields - taking part.

It is not your typical showcase of Indian classical dance: The performance includes a mix of fusion dance forms, vocal, percussion and acrobatics.

The scale of the show may seem daunting to some, but not for Mr Krishnamoorthy. "To manage 50 artistes is not difficult because of our oneness and because of their love and concern for me," he told tabla!.

Through the variety in the art forms, "we are trying to disseminate the message of integration through culture and unity in diversity".

Mr Krishnamoorthy, who also pioneered the Light and Sound Show in Malayalam, says that his children are his inspiration.

Both his daughter Sita and his son Lakshman have degrees in engineering, with his daughter recently having cleared the civil services exam.

"My son comes for my speeches, while my daughter is more keen on my stage shows," he said. "They correct me and inspire me. For me, the final verdict is theirs."


Singapore Malayalee Association presents Onam Nite 2015 at 7pm on Sept 13 at the Esplanade. For tickets, log on to www.esplanade.com or www.sistic.com.sg

Get a copy of tabla! for more stories.