'As an artiste, you've to be brave'

'As an artiste, you've to be brave'

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'As an artiste, you've to be brave'

Popular : Teejan Bai

But God-gifted talent has no boundaries and she proved this by performing the art and receiving national and international recognition. She was then awarded a Padma Shri and later, a Padma Bhushan. In the City recently to perform her acclaimed Draupadi Cheerharan, she spoke to Metrolife about the changes in the Pandavani art, her struggle as an artiste and the popularity of theatre in India.

Teejan Bai says it was her maternal grandfather who got her interested in this art. “I used to hear stories from him as a child,” she says. But considering she was the first woman ever to take up the art, what motivated her to do so? “I was afraid when I started out. My parents didn’t want me to perform. But then if you are an artiste, you also have to be brave,” she says.

Her struggle with her community is a different story altogether but she mentions that the same people are happy for her now. “God must have brought me to earth for this only,” she says. “I will keep doing this till death,” she adds.

Teejan Bai says over the years, the popularity of Pandavani has remained the same. “People used to come before also and they come now too,” she says. “New people are more in the crowd than the older ones. It is an old story so people will always be there to listen to it,” she adds.

Ask her why she limited herself to just this art and did not pursue any other art and she says, “I never found the time. Pandavani kept me busy all these years and I kept performing it. So I never managed to do anything else,” she says.

Talking about the changes the art has seen, she says, “Yes, changes have been there otherwise all this wouldn’t have been possible.” She adds, “But the story has remained the same. The only change is in the way it is told.” She has performed in Bangalore three times and says it has been a good experience.

But having performed around the world, does she ever see a difference in the reactions of her audience? “The audience’s reaction remains the same,” she says. “I have gone to Paris six times. As an artiste, you would go wherever you get the most love.

The audiences everywhere already know the stories so it is not difficult for them to understand,” she says. “As an artiste, my duty is to just perform and leave the rest to God,” she says.

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