I had first learned of Guru Lakshman's choreographies in cinema when I read the Sruti magazine profile on him in Issue 320 (excerpt here) that noted he "directed and choreographed dance sequences from three art films - Subba Sastri, Hamsageethe and Ananda Tandavam." While I have not been able to locate Ananda Tandavam, I was thrilled to learn this week that its dance starred Savithra Sastry in the lead and the film was supposedly in Tamil and released in 1987! If anyone has seen this dance or knows where to find a copy, please let me know!
Guru Lakshman's choreographies in Subba Sastri and Hamsageethe are, I would argue, among the absolute best (perhaps the best!) serious Bharatanatyam captured in Indian cinema. The treatment of the dances is very different from most other film classical dances with the minimal editing, equal focus given to expressive and pure dance, crisp and authentic lines and movements, and the extended length--all signs of intentional respect and care for the dance segments by the director and editor, and I'm sure Guru Lakshman was the core reason the dances turned out so well.
Subba Sastri (1966, Kannada, aka Subba Shastry) - I first blogged about this dance back in 2011 in my post about Kannada film dances, and it still remains among my top five classical dances ever filmed in Indian cinema. Lakshman's choreography is lit up on screen by the lead dancer whom I can't keep my eyes off of. I have long wondered who the dancers are--does anyone know? This dance conforms to a few conventions of standard film popular classical dance, but somehow it feels quite different. Unfortunately the print has some jumbled editing and portions that appear to have been lost or cut out. The entire movie was posted online in the spring.
I will close with an homage video to Adyar put together by one of his students, Anandini Dasi, featuring many pictures of him that seem quite rare. The audio is of Adyar performing the nattuvangam for a Pushpanjali, and the crisp quality enhances its soul-stirring ambiance.