Sunday 21 April 2024

Interview - Piyal Bhattacharya: I believe in totality - Vijay Shanker

Kolkata based Piyal Bhattacharya is the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for his unique and outstanding contribution in the field of classical dance and Sanskrit theatre. After extensive research, Piyal has introduced Marga Natya based on the Natyashastra that explores the music and dance attributes of Geetam, Sangeetam, Vadyam, Nrityam and Natyam with the underlying philosophy of reaching out to the supreme, through the interaction of jivatma with paramatma. After formal training in Kathakali, being inspired by Dr Padma Subrahmanyam, Piyal studied the Natyashastra and introduced Marga Natya and choreographed dance dramas with the usage of vachika abhinaya and varied other aspects of the performance technique to combine entertainment and education with a spiritual and holistic approach. In an exclusive interview, Piyal Bhattacharya explains the significance of Marga Natya, Sanskrit theatre, characterisation and the usage of some rare musical instruments to enhance the artistic and aesthetic sensibility of the performance and much more.

What induced you to do research and introduce Marga Natya, based on the Natyashastra?

As it is known, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam is the pioneer in the research of applied Natyashastra who first brought forward Bharata's prescription of 108 Karanas as stated in the Tandava Lakshana Chapter. I was mesmerized by her performance at the Swarna Samaroh of 1997. It is this performance that inspired me to pursue Performing Arts seriously. After a very fulfilling seven years of training at Kalamandalam, Kerala, it was Dr. Subrahmanyam's research that propelled me to get to the roots. During my training in Kathakali Theatre, I discovered many Sanskrit Naataka-s, which were based on the doctrine of Natyashastra as informed by my Guru-s. My quest was to reach this foundation of knowledge. The discipline, ethics, and ethos of my training at Kalamandalam have worked as the primary resource behind my attempt to revive Naatya of these Sanskrit Naataka-s based on Bharata's principle. For this I first started studying Sanskrit and its theories intensely. Also, a thorough knowledge of Indian worldviews was instrumental in my pursuit. 

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