Founder Director, Artist and Organisor
Keremane Shivarama Hegde, the visionary pioneer behind Sri Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali Keremane, hailed from the remote village of Keremane in Uttara Kannada District. In 1934, despite financial constraints, he founded the troupe out of his savings, naming it after his revered deity, Lord Ganapati of Idagunji. His dedication to nurturing talent, staging traditional episodes, and expanding Yakshagana's reach beyond borders remains a cornerstone of his legacy. A master of character portrayal and storytelling, his contributions extended beyond the stage, utilizing Yakshagana as a medium for India's freedom movement. Hegde's organizational prowess led to the establishment of a professional troupe, recognized by accolades from Central Sangeet Natak Akademi and Karnataka State.
Director, Artist, Guru, Organisor
Keremane Shambhu Hegde, an eminent figure in the world of Yakshagana, was born in 1938 in Coastal Karnataka. His deep-rooted understanding of Yakshagana, inherited from his father, inspired his profound dedication to the art form. Shambhu Hegde's journey into Yakshagana led him to pursue formal education in choreography at the Natya Institute of Choreography, New Delhi. Returning to his native village, he revitalized the dormant troupe founded by his father, infusing it with innovations and experiments. Shambhu Hegde's artistic finesse expanded the boundaries of Yakshagana, introducing new elements to dance and character portrayal. His tireless efforts reoriented Yakshagana towards mythological themes and legends, influencing public tastes. Beyond performances, he revolutionized stage design, costumes, and make-up techniques, enhancing the art's aesthetic appeal. Shambhu Hegde's visionary leadership and global performances not only earned him prestigious awards and accolades but also led Yakshagana beyond Indian borders, showcasing its richness worldwide
Quoted by the renowned poet Gaurish Kaykini, Keremane Gajanana Hegde was a multifaceted artist who effortlessly portrayed characters like Bhima with valor and Mohini with grace. Initially a teacher, Gajanana Hegde's artistic journey began under the tutelage of his father, Shivarama Hegde, and his brother Mahabala Hegde. Despite starting with male roles, his talent for portraying female characters in Yakshagana was exceptional. In an era dominated by male-centric performances, Gajanana Hegde broke barriers, bringing vivid female roles to the forefront. His portrayal of characters like Ambe, Subhadra, and Chitrangada revitalized female-centric acts in Yakshagana. His premature demise at 33 in 1977 was a loss to both the Mandali and the art field. Despite his short life, his contributions remain etched in Yakshagana's history, transcending time.
Regarded as a luminary in Yakshagana, Mahabala Hegde, a scion of the famed Keremane family, was born into a rich cultural heritage in Gunavante. His journey commenced under the guidance of his uncle, Keremane Shivarama Hegde, a renowned Yakshagana exponent. Initiated into devotional singing as a young boy, he later delved into Hindustani classical vocal and harmonium training. Joining the Idagunji Mahaganapathi Yakshagana Mandali, he swiftly ascended from portraying youthful roles to mastering female and diverse character portrayals. Reviving the Idagunji Troupe in collaboration with his cousins, Shambhu and Gajanana Hegde, their collective prowess steered numerous productions, leaving an enduring impact on Yakshagana in the region. Renowned for his powerful voice, theatrical finesse, and versatility, Mahabala Hegde's portrayals of Ashwathama and Dustabudhdhi garnered immense acclaim. His repertoire encompassed a diverse array of characters, earning him national accolades, including the Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Award and an honorary doctorate from Karnataka University in 2009.