Indian Revival Group presents its new production, “The Wonder that is India”

You could call it a new production, or you could call it a new day in an old journey. As Indian Revival Group prepares for its presentation this Saturday evening of The Wonder that is India, veteran choreographer Yog Sunder and his co-choreographer and daughter, Papiha Desai, are only taking one more step on a path they began following many years and innumerable pleasant surprises ago.

“The subject is something we’ve been dealing with for some time. This is the new version of that vast subject we’ve been handling for so many decades. This time we’re calling it The Wonder that is India,” remarks Papiha about the show which is subtitled “A Riveting Pan-Indian Journey”.

The group that was founded by Yog Sunder over six decades ago has been going strong and carries the matt yet multifarious colours of the Gandhian philosophy which influenced the choreographer in his youth. With a core group of 16 dancers, they call in more artistes according to the needs of each production. This Saturday evening’s show will see 35 dancers, including Papiha, an accomplished Odissi exponent.

The production makes use of 10 different dance forms, reveals Papiha. “Five of them are classical and the rest are regional forms.” She adds that a blend of three forms from Gujarat will be seen, besides styles from Rajasthan and Punjab and a martial dance from Odisha.

The idea, she explains, is to convey “the adbhuta (wonder)” invoked by the country. She was looking for a Sanskrit word for the title, she admits, but could only come up with terms like vismaya — which she feels everybody cannot easily understand or relate to.

The production does not have a storyline as such. “The story is… wonder,” smiles Papiha. “We hope the audience comes out awestruck.”

Yog Sunder’s background — his father Darbar Gopaldas Desai went down in history as the first princely ruler to abdicate his throne to join the freedom movement, and he was closely associated with luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Rabindranath Tagore — puts everything in perspective: from the name of his group to his preferred themes, his loyalty to a an unpredictable career like the stage to his abiding simplicity. And August being the month of Independence Day, this production, says Papiha, is like a “double celebration”.

The Wonder that is India” will be staged at Shri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg, Mandi House, New Delhi, August 25, 7 p.m.