'Steps' rooted in reality win global hearts

'Steps' rooted in reality win global hearts

D Keshava and Sumitra practise at their home in Mysore. DH photo by Anurag BasavarajOnce they fly the nest, very few NRIs have the commitment, love, affection and care for their country. The passion, commitment, the vigour in the steps, as the sixty-five-year old matches step for step with his young daughter to the tune of a bollywood number ‘Nigooda, Nigooda,’ is very emotional to watch. D Keshava the son of the soil, is on his yearly visit to the city and as he poses with Sumitra, 24, pursuing her law in Basel, Switzerland, memories keep flooding back.

Many will recall the famous Esther-Keshava duo dance shows when they would perform Bharatnatyam together, the fair European and the dark Mysorean, who had won the hearts of Mysoreans.

Now as years have rolled by, the zest for life has not dwindled, as Keshava when he comes to his home town, keeps constantly refreshing his art. This was in ample evidence, when he along with Sumitra, even on this short sabbatical, was trying to fine tune his singing, as his daughter was being tutored in Karnatak classical by a dedicated tutor.

“I grew up dancing as both my parents are renowned dancers. My elder sister Anjali and elder brother Anand all dance. We have given several shows in Switzerland and also in other European countries,” said Sumitra.

The father and daughter recently performed together in Bangalore during the Navika show, when they danced to a packed audience in Vidhana Soudha and Ravindra Kalakshetra. The appreciation was deafening, as Sumitra performed ‘Koravanji,’a solo dance which is typically local. They also danced to the tunes of Italian composer Vivaldi.

Though Sumitra speaks Swiss, her looks and taste are thoroughly Mysorean. The dishes she served which included vegetable palyas, rice and sambar was prepared by the father and daughter at their home ‘Kalasri.’

“Even the school for Indian dance and yoga I have built in Switzerland is also called ‘Kalasri.’ Next month Europe’s biggest Indian festival is happening at Basel over 150 artistes from America of Indian origin will be performing and it will be non-stop entertainment,” revealed Keshava.

“We will be performing to the hit tunes of ‘Taal se Taal mila,’ and ‘Khajara re.,’ In fact the names of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan are on everyone’s lips in Europe. The bollywood pot pourri had become a craze in these countries. Now, of course it is a bit on the wane,” said Sumitra whose tilt towards classical Indian dance is very evident when she wishes to be identified more with our ancient culture than the current trend.

Going eloquent on Indian dance, Sumitra says: “Indian dance is very enriching. Every movement has a story and when we express it everyone understands the philosophy and the culture behind it. Thus when we perform in places like Japan, China, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, there is appreciation for Indian dance forms.” They have performed even in churches and also the sibling trio many a times go to small villages and schools in Switzerland to showcase Indian dance forms like Kuchipudi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam and also bollywood numbers, all choreographed by Keshava. 

At a private show in the city recently Keshava performed the old Mysore style dance of the famous Mysore court dancer Venkatalakshamma who was his guru during his formative years. “Sadly this form is lost now as very few can perform it,” says Keshava.
The yearly sojourn to the city is coming to an end, as he packs his bags and signs off with ‘Auf Weidersehen,’ in Swiss which is now his second tongue.