Prerana Shrimali: Creative images in a garden

The lilt of culture: Prerna Shrimali in performance

The lilt of culture: Prerna Shrimali in performance  

Kathak danseuse Prerana Shrimali aligned her body to the verse of Delhi poets

Delhi, the voice of India, recently, has become a postcard of ruptures. In popular history, the cityscape is believed to have been destroyed seven times and re-inhabited eight times. Each time, the tapestry of the city is embellished with a cultural layer, a process that continues to reflect its resilience.

Dilli ki Sanskriti (the Culture of Delhi) was the theme of the three-day festival - “Words in the Garden” co-hosted by Sanatan Sangeet Sanskriti and IILM University at the India International Centre.

Poetry in motion

Known for her command on expressing the most complex images through subtle body movements was Kathak danseuse Prerana Shrimali. She aligned her body to the magical voice of Imran Khan singing verse of Delhi poets - Amir Khusrau, Ghalib, Mir, and Daag. The lilting sounds of the sarangi by Ahsan Ali, sitar of Fateh Ali Khan and percussion rhythmical necromancy of Fateh Singh Gangani came together to enhance the audio experience of the works performed. The metaphor of colour danced to the slow tempo of Khusrau’s poetry evolved into a journey of created images such as the binding and blending reflected in fastened chains.

The topical symbolism ‘garden’ and ‘words’ in Ghalib’s ghazal ‘jahāñ terā naqsh-e-qadam dekhte haiñ, ḳhayābāñ ḳhayābāñ iram dekhte haiñ,” (I follow footprints meandering from one flower-bed to another only to map the garden of paradise) was woven for instance in the image of the innocence of a child walking the earth comprehending his existential reality.

The final piece engaged with words displaying a fascinating technical subversion. Shrimali chose to weave into a slow tempo Tarana, the poetry of Mir and Daag. Usually, the fast nonsensical syllables of the Tarana are sung to reflect the wizardry of rhythm in a song.

The dancer, instead, chose to present stillness to the pearl-like rendering of the musical weave. Shrimali was at her best in the manner she delved into image-making. She illustrated her command in marrying linguistic comprehension to the inherent Kathak dance language.

The artist’s awareness of her depth resonated with the universe of Words in the Garden. There was for the audience a luminous equilibrium to changing appearances releasing the essentials of the poetic words, written and performed.

Naya Theatre Group calls themselves the ‘Theatre of the Ordinary’. Under the directorship of actor Ram Chander, they carry on the work of Habib Tanvir’s Chattisgarh NatakAcademy. Presenting Rang Mandali, Ram Chandra Singh, as the brilliant sutradhar (narrator) with his talented troupe, sang and danced Habib’s creative and magnificent journey. The array of chosen classic compositions written and performed so many decades ago, ironically, brought the visible present reality without denaturing it.

Habib Tanvir’s spirit

Habib’s creative genius was once again on display in “Charandas Chor” (Charan, the Thief), a satire on brainless policemen. There was not one direct reference to the present yet Habib’s work was nothing but the reality of the present. The song of renunciation from the play “Dekh Rahe Hain Nain” (My eyes are seeing) echoed as the counterfoil anthem to Faiz Ahmed Faiz's poem “Hum Dekhenge” (We too shall Witness).

The song “Chola Maati ke Ram” from the play “Bahadur Kalarin”, which was adapted in the film “Peepli Live”, spoke of the ephemeral body. The body is of mud and will dissolve in the mud. Time spares no one. The dissolution of Guru Drona and the kind Karna is a reality test we tend to forget.

One after another Tanvir’s sartorial panache was reflected through plebian images, placing the ordinary man in the centre. Tanvir’s spirit rose through the performance capturing the inner man and outer time, sacred and mundane.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:58:38 PM |

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