Saturday, 20 January 2018

Mellow breeze from Manipur - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee




Is Manipur - nestling among the seven hills - - the same ancient land where the celestial Gandharvas lived and practiced their sacred songs and dance, flying frequently to heavens to entertain the gods? The inhabitants do believe still that they are the original Gandharvas and Manipur's name indeed was 'Gandharvadesh' in days of yore. Whatever the myth is, the abiding love of visual and performing arts in all rites of passage and lifestyle activities bear eloquent testimony to Manipur's aesthetic forbearers.

One would love to believe that the Manipuri boy who came from the nearby Kachhar village in Assam - with dreams of dance in his eyes and a steely resolve to dance all his life despite setbacks - was perhaps a Gandharva in this birth. Groomed by stalwart gurus like Ojha Amudom Shatma, Ojha Amubi Singh and Ojha Atomba, he joined as choreographer in Madame Menaka's pioneering troupe in Mumbai in the 1930s and soon opened his own institution 'Manipuri Nartanalaya' in Mumbai, Kolkata and Imphal. His impressive repertoire of compositions was marked by the richness of taal, lyricism of music, intricacies of rhythmic patterns and fluidity of dynamic movements.

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