Monday, 6 December 2021

Prism - Connecting to Ramlila through its rituals - Sunil Sunkara

When perceived from a western viewpoint, the word ritual resonates with solemnity of action, religious symbolism and conformation of tradition. The Indian perspective is to look at any concept through a distilled viewpoint (darshana). Abhinavagupta mentions that it is not liberation that is the ultimate goal of mankind but the aesthetic relish of liberation (moksha).The objective of lilanukaran tradition is an enjoyment of that relish or Rasa and then absorbing the fruit of that experience into the daily cycle of mundane life.

Ramlila, literally "Rama's play", is a performance of the Ramayana epic in a series of scenes that include song, narration, recital and dialogue based largely upon the Tulsidas Ramcharitmanas. It is performed across India during the festival of Dussehra, held each year according to the ritual calendar in autumn. The most representative Ramlilas are those of Ayodhya, Ramnagar and Benares, Vrindavan, Almora, Sattna and Madhubani.

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Unmute - Performing Artists and the Law: An unexplored and ignorant landscape of exclusive rights of performers as performers - Somabha Bandopadhay

Legality and applicability of rights of and as performers
Performing arts spaces, performers and every stakeholder of art forms, dedicates themselves to the learning, practice and professing of art with utmost sincerity and conviction. Having immersed themselves in this exercise, they often unknowingly, forgo their rights- rights unique to them. These are the double set of rights that they enjoy as performers- their individual rights and their special rights as performers.

Has this come as a shock to you? It is not surprising. In the Indian context, it would be a shocker if a performer is introduced to the bill of performers’ rights. I don’t know how many would believe it. But it is true. Performers have exclusive rights as performers. While some would be happy to learn this, experience reveals that others would be disbelieving, hesitant, uninformed, and clueless. Some would totally ignore the issue, even though it pertains to them in such a major way.
 
It is in this context that the present article hopes to shed light on the rights that performers have, which are unique to them, and which have been legally established under the law of the land. A conglomeration of few laws of the country when interpreted in unison, as is expected to be done while dealing with subject matters that concerns evolving concepts, nuances and fields of expertise, confer these bundles of rights on to performers.

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Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Roving Eye curated by Anita Ratnam - Dec 2021

 


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Anita says...December 2021

 Dance is the healing treasure within your spirit

That only movements of passion can set free

Sometimes in life confusion tends to arise
And only dialogue of dance seems to make sense


- Shah Asad Rizvi, author



In my very last message of 2021, I look forward to writing about watching dance. In person. Not on the small screen. Night after night, seeking those moments of being in the same space as the artiste, watching a moving body instead of an ant size blip, flattened by a digital device and bleached of rasa. Breathing the same air, though masked, applauding and savouring the sound of multiple palms coming together at the end.

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Monday, 29 November 2021

Bewildering variety in Narthaki's Devi Diaries continues - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

After such a varied impression of deified manifestations witnessed in Devi Diaries, how can one forget the everyday woman in real life, whose lot, to say the least, leaves much to be desired? Narthaki, very rightly felt that sans this realistic touch, the project on the feminine mystique would be incomplete. Five young modern dance practitioners, (considering the fact that generally as a group, artists of this genre like to function in their own orbit) generously responded to Anita Ratnam's invitation, and these individual takes on woman in everyday life, make for a very interesting contrast.


Flattened on her back on the floor, face secured in a steel mask with grills, Paramita Saha's goddess, the Dayvi Everyday in her home, raises herself to face yet another multitasking day, hurrying through household chores and much else - not losing her nurturing personality, or sense of joy in dancing within the small space of her home -looking at the outside world from her balcony- her equanimity and optimism undaunted, even as she faces daily challenges from systemic forces of patriarchal oppression. Apart from a convincing dance portrayal of Paramita's brief glimpse into the Everyday Woman, the work was complemented by good camera work catching all angles with clarity.

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Saturday, 27 November 2021

Cultural (il)literacy - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

It is amazing how literate our people are about Indian culture. Or illiterate. Appalling actually. A quiz master of a popular TV show - an ageing film icon no less - didn't seem to know what Bhavai was when a participant from Gujarat spoke about it. It is folk theatre. Very popular like Nautanki of Uttar Pradesh or Therukoothu of Tamilnadu or Yakshagana of Karnataka. Unless he was joking or acting. At another forum, a babu asked, "Can you play Carnatic sarod?" Eeks! Third gem reserved for end of this opening, was the best: "When was Ali added to Kathak to make it Kathakali?" It's not just in arts; even normally 95% population knows zilch about Indian culture. Basic things. I roam all over India like a yogi or migrant person, I see it firsthand. Still, ALL south Indians are Madrasi and for them ALL north Indians are Punjabis. All Eastern folks are Bengali and West means abroad! Few know the seven sisters of North East. Their map, capitals or cuisine. Madhya land, forget it, one big blob. Even in cultural institutions they don't know Baroda had Maratha rulers who also ruled Tanjore in Tamilnadu. They don't know Kashmir except for in films. Rajasthan means camels. Epic means a TV channel.

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Let us talk today about honorary degrees given to artistes. This is not coming from the discourse in the country about dubious degrees, misleading titles, and unheard-of domains of study. Instead, it comes from the fact that Padma Bhushan recipient, Kumudini Lakhia, the grande dame of Kathak, the senior most Kathak dancer and one of the most highly decorated artistes of the country, was awarded an Honorary degree, of Doctor of Letters (D. Litt.), by the ITM University, Gwalior, on 20th November 2021, on the occasion of its 6th convocation. I am so happy to be concluding the Soch column for this year, an annus horribilis in many ways, with a positive story.


ITM is a private University that has honoured distinguished personalities in the past too - since 2016. Among them are a mixed bag of journalists, sports persons, activists, media personalities, and arts icons, numbering almost forty in these six years. With this recognition, Kumiben has joined the ranks of arts icons like music maestros Dr. L. Subramanyam and Pt. Ajay Chakraborty, renowned artists like Prabhakar Kolte, Krishan Khanna and Arpita Singh, poets like Ashok Vajpeyi, film makers like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, actors like Naseeruddin Shah, and in dance Pt. Birju Maharaj. These are all past awardees from the arts.

It is remarkable that a university that is primarily a Technology and Management University has seen such value in the arts.

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