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Lord Krishna as a tattoo artist!

That’s how actor Hema Malini interprets God in her upcoming two- hour Janmashtami performance

art and culture Updated: Aug 20, 2011 15:10 IST
Priyanka Jain

This Janmashtami, you will see Lord Krishna in a new avatar, that of a tattoo artist!

Hema Malini is performing a special dance-drama enactment for the festival. And while narrating tales of Radha and Krishna, the actor-danseuse is introducing two new characters — a tattoo artist and a ‘choodiwali’ (bangle seller).

Hema has been performing the dance-drama at the ISKCON temple in Juhu for 20 years now.

“Every year I try to give a new twist to the performance and add new songs,” she says, adding, “I hear a lot of discourses by different gurus on Aastha channel. If I find something unique, I call the gurus. They know many unheard tales from rare books and readily share their knowledge when I tell them that I want to incorporate these instances in ballet. They even suggest ways to do so.”

Is that how the tattoo artist and bangle seller were born?

She says, “Yes. In one tale, Krishna is desperate to meet Radha, so he comes dressed as a ‘chudiwali’ but is soon caught by the gopis (Krishna’s devotees) and has to leave. It is then that he disguises himself as a ‘goondnewali’ (tattoo artist). Tattoos were prevalent in those days as well.”

Hema adds, “Radha instantly recognises him, but pretends not to. She tells him, ‘Mere mathe pe naam likh do, mere hothon pe likh do, mere har ang par likh do unka naam’ (write his name on my forehead, lips and all over my body).”

Instead of her usual one-hour-fifteen-minute performance, this year Hema is going to do a two-hour piece this Janmashtami on Monday.

While Ravindra Jain has been roped in to compose new songs and write the lyrics, Bhushan Lakhandri is composing the act.

The actor, who designs outfits for all the characters herself, has roped in Neeta Lulla with instructions to design ‘divine robes’ for Radha and Krishna.

Janmashtami
Krishna’s birthday is also called Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanthi. Other important dramatic enactments include the Rasalila, which recreates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna’s younger days. Dahi Handi celebrates his playful side, where men form human pyramids to break high-hanging butter pots.