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Updated: December 20, 2012 20:43 IST

Maestro and the mosquito

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Pandit Ravi Shankar. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
The Hindu
Pandit Ravi Shankar. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Reminiscences A little known story about the late Narendra Sharma, choreographer and Bhoomika founder, and Pandit Ravi Shankar.

In celebrating Pandit Ravi Shankar’s music, I am tempted to share this which was narrated to me when I informed my ailing mother (Jayanti Sharma) of his passing...

This is the story of “Mosquito Dance” which my father Narendra Sharma choreographed as a duet with Robu-da (as the maestro was known to his colleagues) at the famous Almora Center (1939-42) — in many ways Uday Shankar’s homecoming of sorts after his long sojourn in the West. Elder Shankar encouraged students to compose new dances from the word go... He had already pointed out to my father that he had a forte in humour that needed further exploration…

As such, a dance was composed in which Robu-da was a studious student, engrossed in studies, while a mosquito kept buzzing and bugging him while concentrating. The Mosquito was my father. And then, as the dance unfolded, there was a duel between the student and the mosquito, whereupon Flit (liquid insecticide with a pump) was drawn out and a long chase pursued between the two. The dance ended with the victorious student overpowering and killing the mosquito, before returning to his studious self. Music was composed live by Jiten Gului with an all Indian orchestra in attendance.

The Flit company, perhaps the only British company in those days producing insecticides, saw the piece as a student presentation, and immediately wanted copyright for an ad film for their products. Permission was refused by the school authorities.

Robu-da was to soon join Ustad Allaudin Khan in Maihar, to abandon his journey in dance to begin a seminal one in music…

Dance and music worlds were pretty different then… Salutations to the departed Spirit.

(The writer is a choreographer and the son of Narendra Sharma.)



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