Krishna comes calling …

Actress and dancer Shobana performing in her musical dance drama Krishna at Hari Hara Kala Bhavan in Secunderabad recently. The show is heading towards its century milestone next month.Photo: K.V.S. Giri   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

TIRUCHI: Whether as dancer, choreographer or film artiste, Shobana’s name has most often been linked with memorable performances. With the highly-anticipated dance-drama Krishna coming to Tiruchi on July 17, it will be Shobana the danseuse and choreographer who will be at the fore.

“Classical dance is a growing and ever-evolving art,” says Shobana in an email interview with MetroPlus. “Scholars, critics and lovers of art have long agreed that what is deemed as modern now, will be called tradition in the years to come.”

An ambitious production which was launched in Chennai in 2011, Krishna is a New Age exploration of morality and righteousness through the prism of the epic figure. It will be returning to Chennai for its 100th show on August 25, to coincide with Janmashtami.

Shobana plays the title role and is ably supported by dancers from her Kalarpana academy. Set to a pre-recorded soundtrack using catchy film songs (designed by Resul Pookutty), Krishna’s dance sequences are choreographed in a mélange of styles, drawing from classical, Bollywood and contemporary roots. A celebrity voiceover cast featuring Surya, Shabana Azmi, Konkona Sen, Prabhu, Milind Soman, Nandita Das and Radhika make the English lines universally appealing.

Shobana, born into the family of legendary dancers, the Travancore sisters - Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini - was initiated into classical dance by K. J. Sarasa. Bharatanatyam exponent Chitra Visweswaran further honed her talent. She debuted in films at the age of nine, and went on to act in more than 225 films in 6 languages. She won the National Award for Best Actress twice, and has also been honoured with the Padmasri award in 2006.


What does Lord Krishna symbolise to you from the perspective of being a dancer? Does it differ from that of a devotee?

From the perspective of a dancer, Krishna most often symbolises a potential for good narrative and story-telling.

Krishna has been written about by scores of poets who write in a manner that can be dealt upon in the ashtapadis (hymns) and the padams (a form of musical composition) for dancers.

Some poets’ works have better scope for musical interpretations. Then there is theatre and there are recent writers who have tailored their writings to suit film and also television. The list is long

Is the modernising of classical dance essential to maintaining its roots in formalism?

Classical dance is a growing and ever-evolving art. Scholars, critics and lovers of art have long agreed that what is deemed as modern now, will be called tradition in the years to come. We don’t dance today like Devadasis used to.

What is essential is that every artiste should be committed and have learned and researched the subject. He or she should present his or her vision aesthetically.

For me, it is important that we stick as close to the texts as possible. In fact that is a bigger challenge to our creativity.

In Krishna, the movements mostly stem from traditional dances of diverse cultures but there is some use of multimedia that completes the production and nudges the audience into the right ethos.

What are your expectations from the Tiruchi audiences?

I hope that we as team deliver to their expectation. I do request viewers to refrain from trying to shoot the show with their cell phones as it has been a constant nuisance in some of our earlier performances.

Flashing away of the show disturbs serious audiences and also mars the carefully planned lighting. We have put our maximum effort both physically and mentally into the production and are terribly disappointed when after repeated requests, individuals in the audience start shooting the show.

How did you rope in so many celebrity voiceover artistes? What was their initial reaction when you approached them?

I don’t have a lasso to ‘rope’ in any one, only a good script. The artistes who have lent their voice, cannot be coerced into being a part of the production.

Some of them initially had doubts about measuring up, which I think is a mark of an artiste. Truly accomplished artists are humble and unaware of their abilities. Then, as we worked together and after hearing the result in the studio, they were convinced. I was fortunate that I could work with them.

How did the final soundtrack of the drama emerge, and have you been updating the song selections as you prepare to reach the show’s century milestone?

I write the script, then I choreograph, then I rewrite ... then we do the music ... then we re-choreograph. Then we rewrite ... then we ask Resul to bear with us, he sends us the first audio, we re-choreograph. So it’s a lovely process.

Having had a long innings in films yourself, besides witnessing that of your accomplished aunts, Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini, do you feel the film as an idiom has become an indelible part of Tamil literary and pop culture?

Why Tamil culture? I’m curious as to what happened to the rest of India. Personally I love film culture … no prizes for guessing why.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 11:44:35 PM |

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