Madhuri Dixit is undoubtedly one of the best dancers Bollywood has ever seen, but when she danced to Dhai Shyam Rok Lai in Devdas more than a decade ago, the actor showed the world how she can make hearts skip a beat even with a subtle movement of an eyebrow.
The credit for that goes to choreographer and Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj. Unlike most other classical dance forms, there is something inherently modern about Kathak that has kept it relevant even in the age of hip-hop. So it wasn’t surprising that when city-based dance troupe Nrityanjali took to the stage with their Kathak recital, one could discern a large number of youngsters in the audience.
Usually, in order to capture the attention of the younger generation, classical artistes either resort to fusion or dilute the art form so much that its inherent characteristics become unrecognisable. But Dr Anonna Guha and her troupe’s performance on Saturday came as a pleasant surprise. The performance aptly started with Saraswati Vandana and Guru Vandana and then Guha and her team through choicest parans and tukras went on to enthrall the audience, while simultaneously explaining the various nuances of the dance form, right from how a temple dance travelled to the courts of the Mughals and flourished there.
As they demonstrated how the law of gravity comes into play while performing the fast-paced continuous chakkars and how Math is creatively used in forming the ginti tehais, the audience’s amazement was evident. Dr Tushar Guha, the founder of Nrityanjali, which scripted the show, said, “It is important to make classical forms relatable. If we remain too rigid about the content, it will only create a disconnect with today’s audiences, who do not really have the time or the patience to sit through long, complicated classical recitals.” Rashna Modi, 65, who has been a regular to the festival said, “I have seen their previous performances also, but this one was by far their best. I loved it.”