Shobana is back to doing what she loves best… write, choreograph and experiment. After tacking the darker side of man through ‘Maya Ravan’ five years ago, the dancer returns to the stage with ‘bursts of joy and plenty of happy emotions’ when she unveils her latest production, ‘Krishna,’ to coincide with Gokulastami. The show opens on August 22, 6.30 p.m. at The Music Academy, with a repeat performance the following day.
Instructing workers who are giving finishing touches to the stage props even as she explains the process of putting together what she calls a ‘dialogue-drama’, Shobana is a picture of cool confidence. “Krishna is a universal icon, peace-monger and the harbinger of all things that are good. For an artist, he is the dancing God, and his life lends itself to myriad interpretations.”
She elaborates, “Krishna has not been and cannot be explored in his entirety. A dancer’s take is different from the hero in a grandmother’s tale or the protagonist of a cartoon show. He appeals to everybody at some level or the other. That is what makes him unique. As a commentator and story teller, my attempt is to try and string together various episodes from his life and weave a tale that captures Krishna, the superhuman among humans.” Drawing from the Gita, Osho, Bengali songs and several popular texts, Shobana has penned a script that will feature well-known episodes from Krishna’s life with lesser known ones.
Designed on the lines of a musical, ‘Krishna’ will be an amalgam of dance styles – folk, classical and Bollywood. She notes, “No dance show on Krishna is complete with Raas Lila and Bollywood has enough peppy numbers to emote that joie de vivre. There will be moments of pure dance as well.”
An interesting aspect is the music. While there are time-tested classical numbers in Malayalam and Tamil, and Hindi film songs, Shobana has composed fresh songs as well. “In fact, some of them have English lyric are set to a Carnatic raga.”
Eight months of practice with 50 students has proved to be quite a challenge. “There were days when I wondered if I could pull this off. But the commitment and enthusiasm of my students need to be lauded. Broken ankle or sprain, they never gave up.”
Shobana is all praise for all the celebrities who have lent their support to the production, especially Resul Pookutty who lent his expertise in sound design. “He is one committed artist. He completed his work in just two days, just as he had promised.” Actor Surya (voice over for Arjuna) is another who found favour with her. “He offered a masculine perspective to Arjuna.” She goes on, “I consider it a privilege to have interacted with some of India’s finest actors. Shabana Azmi (voice over for Gandhari) treated me to a royal meal before heading for the studio to record.” The others who have lent their voice are Nandita Das (Draupadi), Radhika (Devaki), Prabhu (Bhima and Nandan) and Konkona Sen (Radha).
Costume is another high point of Shobana's productions. 'Krishna will be no different. "Flamboyance goes hand in hand with subtlety… it depends on the mood on stage. But unlike in ‘Maya Raavan’, where I had 23 costume changes, here I have only six. The same cannot be said for my students.”
Shobana is keeping her fingers crossed about how the audience will receive this one. “I felt a calling inside me to do this. I have put my heart and soul to come up with this show which, I hope, people can relate to,” she says signing off.
Tickets for ‘Krishna’ are available at Landmark (Nungambakkam), Nuts & Spices (Anna Nagar, Velachery and Kilpauk), Fashion Folks (Adyar), Kalarpana ph: 92824 01135) and The Music Academy.