Wednesday 28 February 2024

Profile - The last film of Kumar Shahani - Ileana Citaristi

I got in touch with Kumar Shahani for the first time after seeing his maiden film Maya Darpan which ends with Chandralekha's choreographic sequences of Chhau dance performed by dancers clad in white, red and black performing on a red surface which keeps on appearing and disappearing projecting a carousel of powerful and fragmented messages. Chandralekha's fascination for the Chhau idiom and my connection with her during the East West Dance Encounters of the 80s had been one more reason for me to approach him.

From then, I started visiting him whenever I was in Mumbai and spent quite a lot of time sitting in the veranda of his Napean Sea Road apartment, listening to his fascinating and erudite talks on dance, music, films and politics. When from 1996 onwards I organised the Festival of Films of Performing and Visual Arts in Bhubaneswar I managed to show three of his equally iconic films Khayal Gatha, Bamboo Flute and Bhavantarana, all three powerful statements of his deep understanding of music and dance not only as aesthetic tools but as visuals impregnated with epic, philosophical and spiritual connotations as well. 

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