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Danseuse par excellence: A glimpse into life of a maestro who amazed the world

Films have been an effective medium to reflect the cultural ethos of a nation, giving a glimpse of the grandeur of the performing arts. Utilising this medium, filmmaker Beenu Rajput screened a cinematic documentary ‘Born to Dance’ at Government Museum, Sector 10 on Tuesday.

punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2016 13:06 IST
Neeru Saharan
Kathak guru Shovana Narayan.
Kathak guru Shovana Narayan.(Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

Films have been an effective medium to reflect the cultural ethos of a nation, giving a glimpse of the grandeur of the performing arts. Utilising this medium, filmmaker Beenu Rajput screened a cinematic documentary ‘Born to Dance’ at Government Museum, Sector 10 on Tuesday.

Rajput has made a sensitive effort to conceive a film on the most celebrated guru of kathak, Padma Shri Shovana Narayan, who is not only known for her dance and ‘abhinaya’ (acting), but also for her works as a social reformer. The 40-minute film highlights her childhood and dancing career that includes her research work and the books she authored. Also, her learning days with her teacher Sadhna Bose and her guru Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj.

“What she did in 1970s, has become a fashion these days,” said Rajput. Shovana received accolades for her dance dramas ‘Sujata’ on caste discrimination, ‘Muktilekha’ on the concept of eminent jurist LM Singhvi, and ‘Dushasan Bas Karo’, a drama that compares the unfolding layers of Draupadi’s saree with the layers of environment depicting threat to the ecosystem on Earth. Married to Herbert Traxyl, an Austrian diplomat, Shovana runs her dance school ‘Asavari Institute’ in New Delhi.

She retired from Indian Administrative Services in 2001. She also has the credit of discovering eight kathak villages near Gaya in Bihar after her esearch.

The Sangeet Natak Academy awardee’s effort in the form of dance play ‘East Meets West’ with Austrian choreographer Andrea Campianu is still remembered as a masterpiece of fusion art. “I improvised on the nuances of kathak on German poetry for a film by Joern Thiel. He even amazed me by showing an eighteen century book - the theatre of mathematics on ‘hastmudra’, which is believed to be a part of Indian dances only,” says Shovana who has authored Sterling Book of Indian Classical dances among many such others.

Beenu Rajput, who assisted filmmaker Mike H Pandey, now plans to make a feature film on the maestro. “It is very difficult to do justice to a multifaceted artiste like Shovana Narayan. Her persona is so difficult to depict,” says Rajput.

“Beenu has made a sensitive film and have tried to capture all the aspects of the subject. I was honoured and deeply moved as she tries to explain what kathak is all about,” says Shovana.