Published: 27th December 2020
How Arshiya Tanu Vitla is breaking all stereotypes to pursue her love for Yakshagana
Arshiya Tanu Vitla from Dakshina Kannada who is popularly known by her stage name Tanu Vitla speaks about her journey in Yakshagana and the villain roles she has played so far
Art should not be bound to a particular gender or religion. It is one platform where anybody can learn to perform and explore, believes, Arshiya 'Tanu Vitla' a Yakshagana artist from Vitla in Dakshina Kannada. At a time when incidents of religious intolerance and exploitation of women's rights are aplenty, Arshiya has chosen to hone her skills in Yakshagana and become a full-time artist, going by the stage name Tanu Vitla. Neither her gender nor her community could kill her dream of performing this traditional theatre artform.
Arshiya, who currently works in an automobile shop in Padil, explains, "When I was studying at Jaycee English Medium School in Vitla, one of my teachers dressed me up and taught Yakshagana to perform on the school's annual day. I was only ten years old at the time and I liked what I was doing. That's when I decided to go ahead and learn this artform. Aside from this, what inspired me was an act of Sri Devi Mahatme Prasanga where the goddess kills Mahishasura. I was fascinated by the role of Mahishasura instead of the goddess. I would practice for four to five hours in a day and I haven't looked back since."
But Arshiya's path to learning Yakshagana proved to be a little tough. She saw resistance from the people of the Muslim community. "They would say that being a girl from the Muslim community, I am not supposed to learn or perform Yakshagana. However, my family has supported me throughout and whatever I am today is because of them," says this 20-year-old artist. So what are the roles she plays on the Yakshagana stage? Arshiya replies, "I have played the roles of Nishambasura, Rakthabeejasura Vadhe, Srinivas Kalyana, Sudarshanopakyana, Kadamba Kaushike, Shambavi Vijaya and given performances across Mangaluru, Udupi and Karwar."
With these unique roles of demons and villains, together with Arshiya's booming loud and clear voice, her performances have attracted several people to watch the artform. Currently, she is being trained by Ramesh Bhat at Kadali Kala Kendra. Arshiya says, "Next, I want to learn to play the chande, a percussion instrument that is used in Yakshagana. I also hope to perform more across Karnataka."