Saturday, 10 April 2021

Obit/Tribute - Shanmukha Ratna V.S. Amarnath Sury - Vijay Shanker

V.S. Amarnath Sury, hon Secretary of Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, left for his heavenly abode on 2nd April 2021, after a long battle of ill health; he was regularly going through dialysis. He was 79 and leaves behind his wife, daughter and son.

Amarnath Sury was born on November 3,1941 and is the grandson of Umayalpuram Krishna Bhagawathar, the direct disciple of saint Tygaraja. In a career spanning four decades in Gem and Jewelry trade, he was associated with the Gem and Jewelry Council of India (1979 -2003) as its executive director; after retirement he continued as the advisor. From 2006-2017 he was General manager of Diamond India Ltd.

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Thursday, 8 April 2021

Interview - Poornima Ashok: A lot is there to be done - Vijay Shanker

One of the foremost Bharatanatyam exponents, teacher and choreographer, Bangalore based Poornima Ashok talks about her experiences that has spanned more than four decades, her recent performance at the Khajuraho Festival and much more.

How was your experience performing for Khajuraho festival along with your disciple?

I was invited to perform there in 2011. Unfortunately my father passed away and I had to cancel the program. But now in 2021, we were overwhelmed, indeed it was a dream come true. The joy we experienced is something that cannot be described in words. Since the festival was conducted inside the premises for the first time, with the temple as backdrop, the ambience was heavenly and we felt like apsaras.

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Sunday, 4 April 2021

The plain speaking puppets - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Chi Chi Land, a puppet play mounted on March 21 (incidentally, also the World Puppetry Day) by Kolkata’s well-known Dolls Theatre, was a most eloquent case in point to illustrate the master puppeteer’s observation. Written by Debiprasad Sengupta, its story had three pivotal points of a perfectly funny children’s story, namely, two innocent brothers’ indulging in child like quarrels on being left-handed or right-handed in habits; their falling apart (under external provocation) into dividing their parental land between themselves with a wall erected in between; and their eventual (again being provoked) resolve to seriously fight against each other starting with stones and slings, and ending with guns, canons and missiles. All these sad events leave their growing children utterly bewildered as to why they can no longer play among themselves, because of the divisive wall and the frightening uproar made around them by the swishing weapons of the adults!

Conceived by the gifted young puppeteer Sudip Gupta, an awardee of Sangeet Natak Akademi, the play presented very eloquent string-puppets comprising the two playful brothers and their grown-up counterparts and one real life theatre actor Tom Tom (played well by Utsav Rauth with a stylish make-up) as the arch villain – with crafty interventions and making thereby his own pots of money! – made the perfect staple for enjoyment of children and adults alike. This was clearly evident among the surging viewers on a post-endemic Sunday proscenium audience. Mingling skillful traditional puppetry with real action human characters is a recent trend that has emerged among contemporary puppeteers and Sudip made full use of the trend to make his boisterous children’s tale to make its points!

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Thursday, 1 April 2021

Anita says...April 2021

 The virus licks my torn soul, guilt tripping me

I sing a love song to it, tempting the faint thump,
Causing my heart to fissure its fatty lumps; pretend
I live on a moon of my own landing, turn my flesh
Inside out, listen to the chirping of birds, amazed

That so much beauty could still exist, amid club-like
Spikes that crush the breathing soul...
A pestilence that asks for enormous surcharges, lethal
As the protean cry of daggers, stabbing me yet again.

Quietly slithering out, a warlike stratagem, as
Birds orchestrate their cheerful songs to one another...

Gone, I struggle with myself, umpteen times more

By Nishi Chawla
From the anthology SINGING IN THE DARK
Global poetry under lockdown
Publisher Penguin Vintage

Well... have you?
Have you become bored with watching online dance?
Are you ready to SCREAM with frustration as another lockdown looms large?
Are you ready to vote for your next State Chief Minister? (this for those citizens of certain Indian states)

I am saying YES to all the above.

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Saturday, 27 March 2021

Monsoon melody from corona crescent - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Sparsh, a film released on March 26, under the baton of the ever-innovative Kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas, she literally pulled off all stops for her Drishtikon Dance Foundation to assemble a bevy of professionally groomed youthful male and female dancers to respond -- across continents -- to the vibes and cadenza of a wonderfully sung Mian Ki Malhar by Faraz Ahmed, complete with its soulful Alaap, Bol taans and Sargams, moving mellifluously from Purbang to Uttarang, then from Mandra Saptak to Taar Saptak, accompanied by two sonorous playing pakhawaj and tabla duo, Mohit Gangani and Asish Gangani respectively, adding their own mnemonics almost at will. The entire musical mosaic, composed by Ashish Gangani and Faraz Ahmed, seemed to be tailor made for an inspired occasion!

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Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Obit/Tribute - Laxmipriya Mohapatra, the first Odissi dancer on stage - Ileana Citaristi

In the early Forties at the time when female acting or dancing was considered taboo in the society and an occupation akin to prostitution, Laxmipriya became part of the first batch of female dancers to be associated with the Annapurna 'A' group at Puri. Although born at Khurda, she had come to live in Puri with her mother Tulasi Devi at a very early age. She was the youngest one among the first batch of female dancers along with Heera, daughter of a devadasi of Puri, and Nirmala who had left behind the rest of the family in Calcutta, and at the age of seven, had settled down at Puri with her mother. Among the elder ones who were already married at the time of joining the Theatre, were Radharani, Haramani, Balamani, Sara, Ratna and Buddhi. Some had already had a kind of stage experience by having participated either in folk dramas in their respective villages or having been cast by Mohan Sunder Dev Goswami in his film Sita Bibaho. After joining the Theatre, they were left completely under the care of the manager Bauribandhu Mohanty, who would treat all of them like adopted daughters. Slowly, besides dancing, they started to replace the male actors in the female roles and to grow as full fledged artists.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Excellent exotica - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Chetana, the celebrated theatre group from the eastern metropolis under the baton of the thespian Arun Mukhopadhyay, would earn its golden jubilee laurels by next year and has been known in India and abroad for several of its landmark productions over the half century of its existence. Indeed, one of its early productions Jagannath mounted in1977 with Arun himself in the eponymous role, made a performance history for group theatre and ran for a spectacular number of nearly 1000 shows, as was proudly announced in the international press conference by the director of Bharat Rang Mahotsav in the capital sometime in the early 2000s. Here is a quick word on the play's overarching excellence.

Jagannath was an adaptation of Lu Xun's Chinese novella, The True Story of Ah-Q, and was indubitably a legendary production of Bengali theatre. Re-worked and Indianised, Arun's character Jagannath was a poor, uneducated villager. All the villagers disregarded him and people of higher ranks did not even consider him to be a human being. No matter what wrongful or unjust treatment he was subjected to, there was no inclination in him to protest or to resist. At the end of the story, when Jagannath was charged with sedition by the then regime and sent to the gallows (on a false charge of being a "revolutionary"), the protagonist made an eloquently defiant gesture against the conspiring world and voluntarily got the noose round his neck! In fact, that defiant laughter of his still rings out in the face of all the oppressive powers on earth, who level such wrong charges of sedition against their innocent victims, just as Nora's slamming the door on her husband's face - at the end of Ibsen's The Doll's House echoes and re-echoes against the global patriarchal society through the centuries, as trenchantly noted by George Bernard Shaw.

Kusum Kusum and Girgiti presented on proscenium stage on February 28 by Chetana were equally eloquent productions, especially after the pandemic times! While the first play was an adaptation from Girish Karnad's Flowers, a grim tragedy with deep folk roots, the second one was a heady comedy - again an adaptation from Safdar Hashmi's Gurgit and rooted, in turn, in Anton Chekov's Chameleon - and a boisterous take on the quirky ruling class!

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