Saturday 9 March 2024

Panchabhutam! - Dance Matters: Column by Ashish Mohan Khokar

JGPAC sounds most unlike a dance music place. But it is. A college of performing arts, no less. In Ahmedabad, near Navrangpura area, beyond Gujarat University campus. The college architecture is nothing unusual in the landscape of mushrooming businesses in this city, now resembling a mini Manhattan. I've been visiting Amdavad (as locals call it) for 40 plus years now. It started with Paldi circle for most and ended at Ellis Bridge. There was one hotel those days called Karnavati and one dance institution of national importance - Darpana, initiated by the most gracious lady in dance field I've met in my 60+ conscious years - Mrinalini Sarabhai. What an epitome of goodness, on stage and off stage. She was a close friend of our family. My mother's guru vidwan Muthukumaran Pillai was her guru too. In fact, he went and helped start the first Bharatanatyam classes in that city in 1950s when Darpana was set up. He stayed there 2 years to help Mrinalini Amma find her feet and returned only as food and dusty city of textiles made him sick. As it makes me! Every time I've been to that city, I've fallen ill. 9/10 times. Something's in the air. Last I was there, I caught Covid. Two years I kept safe in the South and even Delhi trips but Gujus are very democratic people who follow no rules. No one wore masks inflight too! One can see it in city traffic and people's way of life. Shouting, talking loudly, laughing, not taking anything seriously except their accounts, stocks and shares; they are the Punjabis of West India. 

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  1. Brilliant read! As if penned down by a travelling monk.. journeys & experiences .. congratulations Ashish ji🙏

  2. An absolutely delightful read. The Gujarat and Mumbai segments were very interesting to me. A crisp and valuable round up by an impeccably articulate, and profoundly knowledgeable art historian. Very informative & well written Ashish bhai 👌

  3. Very well and aptly summarised... Following the regions so closely and analysing unbiasedly is hugely glaring and evident in the article...