Remembering the legend

Discussion

The monthly Dance DISCourse series conducted by art historian and critic Ashish Mohan Khokar was held at Alliance Française recently.

The programme was held in the memory of Uday Shankar, renowned Indian dancer and choreographer, who is also considered to be the pioneer of modern dance in India.
Three panelists namely Chiranjeevi Singh, Dr M K Raghavendra and Jaideep Sen discussed about the various aspects of dance and choreography.

Chiranjeevi Singh opened up the discussion by focusing on the dance forms in the present age.

“Bollywood witnessed melodious songs and wonderful dances during yester years. There were very interesting dance sequences which we can remember even today. The classical art forms like Kathak and Bharatanatyam had a good display that time. Now, the situation has transformed drastically. Gymnastic has become dance and noise has become music,” he lamented.

Ashish Khokar spoke on the life and achievements of Uday Shankar.
“The legendary film-maker was known for adapting Western theatrical techniques to traditional Indian classical dance. He directed Kalpana, a Bollywood movie which revolved around a young dancer’s dream of setting up an academy, which was more like his biography,” he said.

“But, the film didn’t do well and Uday Shankar suffered a lot,” he regretted.
M K Raghavendra spoke on the role of dance in Indian films.

“Earlier songs and dances were loaded with meaning and had a message for the society. They were narrative, hence had a prominence in old films. Now, the language of Bollywood song is basic Hindi and they are not complementary to the storyline,” he felt.
Jaideep Sen opined that dance and songs are the integral part of a film and praised Uday Shankar for his experiments.

“Uday Shankar, being the master of medium, had a kind of fearlessness. He was willing to do all kinds of experiments and was open to new things. He tried to retain Indian identity through Kalpana, but unfortunately it didn’t do well at the box office,” he said.
The session was kept open for the audience to interact and many dance practitioners cleared their doubts on dance and choreography.

A 20-minute video footage on the evolution of dance and choreography from Mughal-E-Azam to Jaane Tu Ya Jane Naa was screened. And also some portions from the classic film Kalpana was shown.

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