The case of Raja, Radha and Kaushalya Reddy is a perfect one of a neatly resolved love triangle where the Woh became Patni No. 2, to the acceptance and satisfaction of all the three.
Raja married his first cousin Radha in 1959 when he was 11 and she, 5. They belonged to a small village in Andhra Pradesh. They shared not only a roof but a passion for Kuchipudi dance. They went to Hyderabad in 1965 and learnt the nuances of the dance from Guru Vedantam Prahlad Sharma. Then they moved to Delhi where Raja received training in choreography.
The village belle that she was, Radha felt homesick in the large metropolis of Delhi. To cheer her up, her 4-year old younger sister Kaushalya joined her.
In 1979, during a performance tour of South East Asia, Kaushalya was made the head of the orchestra. The adulation that Raja and Radha received stirred something in Kaushalya. She felt that a seed of love for her brother-in-law had got itself planted in her heart.
Their next tour was in Mexico. A female fan of Raja, who had gone crazy about him, invited the three to her home. She had pasted a life-size photo of Raja on the ceiling! And lo and behold, she insisted that Raja marry her!!! And wait to know what happened next.This was a catalyst and the subterranean feeling in Kaushalya's heart surged to the surface. The same night, Kaushalya, then 15, declared her desire to marry Raja. The seed had sprouted and had fully bloomed.
Radha deeply loved her sister and her sister’s happiness was her happiness. However, Radha laid down one condition: only she could play Raja’s lover on stage. This has been respected by the other two.
Raja has two daughters, Yamini and Bhavna, one each from the two sisters. And both the children have inherited the talent of their parents and taken to Kuchpudi.
Kaushalya still calls Raja as bawa (brother-in-law).Raja says that they have their differences but when they get together to dance, everything dissolves.
(I am a great admirer of Raja, Radha and Kaushalya. The above information is sourced from a feature in a recent issue of The Times of India.)
In Telugu community, it is common for first cousins to marry each other. Also, it is not uncommon for a young man to marry his elder sister’s daughter, when the age-difference is not much.
On the 11th July, 2018, I had the good fortune of watching the couple and Yamini perform at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar, as a part of Shrestha Bharat Samskruti Samagam, organised by central Sangeet Natak Akademi. It was a dream come true for me as I had longed to watch them perform on stage, that too, with Yamini! I was told that Raja is in his 80s but is as agile as a 25-year old!
Adding to my pleasure, there was Kaushalya in the group providing music for the dance-recitation!