An ode to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi through the pirouettes of Kathak | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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An ode to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi through the pirouettes of Kathak

Kathak dancer Shivani Varma will pay a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in her upcoming performance titled Champaran Se Bapu.

art and culture Updated: Mar 05, 2018 12:54 IST
Henna Rakheja
Kathak dancer Shivani Varma’s performance, Champaran Se Bapu is an ode to Mahatma Gandhi.
Kathak dancer Shivani Varma’s performance, Champaran Se Bapu is an ode to Mahatma Gandhi.

The name Mahatma Gandhi creates a visual of a simplistic man who is known as the father of the country. His journey of becoming Bapu, which began from Champaran (Bihar), is widely known, and will now be depicted through Kathak by artist Shivani Varma.

Dressed in a minimalistic khadi attire with a red bindi on her forehead, Varma will perform an extended version of her choreography titled Champaran Se Bapu, which explores how Gandhi became a saint from a man with his sheer conviction to not to give up. “This performance’s debut was in last September, when I was invited to perform at the 100 year celebration of Champaran Satyagraha movement. But, I then had to contain the performance duration to 20 minutes. Now, I have developed it further and added in it the history of the place, and how Gandhi visited it on getting to know about the terrible condition of indigo farmers,” says Varma emphasising that improvisation is an important aspect of Kathak.

“Dancing to one bhajan would have been easy, but I wanted to do something new and yet enjoyable for everyone in the audience including the young. So, in this piece my invocation will have footwork on the bhajan Vaishnava Jana. In the technical section, there are tukdas, and abhinaya will be on other bhajans and hymns.”

The storyline, however, is conceived in a way that it fulfils the requirements of the Indian classical dance form. “A Kathak performance begins with an invocation, moves to the technical aspects and ends with abhinaya (emotive movements). Dancing to one bhajan would have been easy, but I wanted to do something new and yet enjoyable for everyone in the audience including the young. So, in this piece my invocation will have footwork on the bhajan Vaishnava Jana. I could have selected a Ram bhajan, but I wanted something that was close to the Mahatma, and Vaishnava Jana depicts the greatness of his beliefs. In the technical section, there are tukdas, and abhinaya will be on other bhajans and hymns,” adds Varma.

A disciple of Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan, Varma started learning the technicalities of Kathak from the age of 7, and has been mentored by danseuse Sharmistha Mukherjee,. “Having seen Guru Sonal Mansingh perform, my mother wanted me to learn Odissi. But I fell for Kathak,” laughs Varma, whose upcoming performance defies the set notions of traditional Kathak, to explore a significant chapter in India’s independence struggle and pay an ode to Mahatma Gandhi.

Though Kathak dance usually has elaborate dresses and ornaments, Shivani Varma will wear a simple khadi attire and put on minimal make-up, to be able to depict the ideals that Mahatma Gandhi lived his life by.

The music compositions and vocals, for the performance, will be by Pt Jwala Prasad and Ranjini Sanyal. Other accompanists include Khaled Mustafa (Sitar), Mahaveer Gangani (Pakhawaj), Yogesh Gangani (Tabla), Vikas Babu (Shehnai and flute), and Arshad Khan (Israj).

CATCH IT LIVE
  • What: Champaran Se Bapu
  • Where: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
  • When: March 6
  • Timings: 7pm
  • Nearest Metro Station: Jor Bagh on Yellow Line

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