Indian Classical

Bharatnatyam is for millennials – lifestyle

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Back in 2012, AK Srikanth, who runs a dance production house in Bengaluru with wife and Bharatnatyam dancer, Savita Sastry, had written a story that he titled Colors: Green, inspired by his mother. It was a glimpse into her dreams and her domestic role, with the latter eventually overshadowing her aspirations.

Eight years later, it has taken the form of a short film, starring Sastry. The film is the first in a trilogy that has released on YouTube. “The film is based on the colours of the Indian flag. When our founding fathers decided on the hues, they associated each one with an ideal. We have tried to juxtapose these with the situation women find themselves in today. Green represents fertility, growth and auspiciousness. But women are conditioned to believe that raising children and caring for the family is their raison d’etre. We choose instead, to explore a woman’s life and dreams,” he says.

Sastry with husband AK Srikanth
Sastry with husband AK Srikanth

In 2010, Sastry moved from performing traditional Bharatanatyam to producing theme-based projects that did not necessarily have a basis in mythology or religion. She was keen to evangelise Bharatanatyam for audiences not familiar with the dance form, or those with no interest thus far in classical Indian dance. “A majority of Indian youth see it [classical dance] as boring. Our mission has been to prove to them that Bharatanatyam can be as much an edge-of-the-seat experience as cinema,” she says.

To achieve this, in 2018, the couple began by digitising Sastry’s stage performances for an online audience. Last year, her first short dance film, The Descent, which showcased the free fall of a superstar, went on to win the best short film award at the Near Nazareth Festival, the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, Best Global Shorts and the Top Shorts Film Festival.

The virtual medium has its pluses and minuses, she thinks. “On film, even a mediocre dancer looks good thanks to retakes. The audience has seen enough and more 10-minute superstars, and, therefore, any digital film on Bharatanatyam is bound to be met with suspicion from novices. Also, the chemistry between the performer and the audience that comes alive during a live show is missing. Add to that the notoriously short span of attention that online audiences have.” Fortunately, their films have been well received. “The numbers we could reach in a year-long tour of shows have been garnered in the first 24 hours of uploading.

What: Colors: Green

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