The popular Sufi kalam Chhaap Tilak Sab Chheeni, composed by Amir Khusrau, has had several renditions in the past. It has always been a favourite among classical dance performers, especially Kathak dancers. This time, however, the young Indian dancer Bhavana Reddy has made an unusual choice. She is all set to perform a solo Kuchipudi recital on the poems of Amir Khusrau, as part of the Winter Festival of Dance. The concert is titled Uske Raah Mein.
“When my father, guru Raja Reddy, told me that he is going to choreograph a recital on Chhaap Tilak, I thought how it is possible?” says the 26-year-old. Her concern was the structure of the song which was uncommon for a Kuchipudi interpretation. Her guru and father Raja Reddy, thought otherwise.
“Without going out of the grammar of Kuchipudi, I have choreographed the recital on the songs which are in Hindustani music. The expression is of erotic love and the language is Urdu, which is beautiful to interpret,” says Raja Reddy. He explains that Kathak is mostly about the pirouettes. “But in Kuchipudi there is hasta abhinaya, that is, hand gestures. Not only this, there’s also footwork and different movements,” he adds.
Apart from Khusrau’s poems, Bhavana’s performance will also be on a bhajan of Meera Bai. “I don’t think about the poet. Instead I think about the poet’s love for God and relate to the lyrics. This way I become a vessel for the poet and the audience both,” says Bhavana.
Initially it was difficult for the young danseuse to understand the language. “I had to ask the meaning of certain Urdu words. When my father explained them to me, I saw an entirely new meaning to his choreography. There are four songs on which I will perform. These have been restructured to become fit for a recital,” she adds.
- What: Winter Festival of Dance
- Where: India International Centre, Lodi Estate
- When: December 28
- Timings: 6pm
- Nearest Metro Station: Jorbagh on Yellow Line