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Indian arts beckon

PTI | ByNabanita Sircar, London
May 06, 2004 07:51 PM IST

It is heartening that efforts are afoot to promote India's rich cultural and artistic heritage, writes Nabanita Sircar.

Bollywood is obviously a real seller here. Even the media coverage of the Indian elections is sprinkled with reports of participation of Bollywood stars in poll campaigning. Its saleability sometimes even entices scribes to ignore checking facts before writing. An article in The Times, last week, caught my eye. It was about this so-called Bollywood actress named Miss Poppy, who ordered her favourite Indian food from a restaurant in Essex to be delivered to her in the Big Apple. The owner of the restaurant was obviously thrilled about the order which came to £2,600, including delivery charge, because the owner personally flew across to make the delivery.

I had known of Tom Cruise ordering his favourite Indian food from London's famous Bombay Brasserie while shooting in Italy and having it flown over by his private jet. So I wondered who this Miss Poppy is - a Bollywood star I had never before heard of. This great actress seemed to have starred in a film called Jakon Bristi Namlo, so I called around to ask friends who have knowledge of Tollywood, but they seemed as surprised as me by this mysterious actress. No one seems to have heard of her. Now there is speculation if she is some Assamese actress or a Bangladeshi one. But funnily, the journalist who wrote the article did not even bother to find out the actress's credentials, and said she is "one of the best known names in Bengali cinema" and called her a Bollywood star. But cinema gurus in Kolkata do not appear to have heard that name before. But that's the power of Bollywood these days. Inserting the name of Bollywood gave the restaurant owner some great publicity and the scribe a byline. How about Dada Kondke being a Hollywood actor!

While Indian cinema is to soon become part of an undergraduate curriculum at Leicester University, it is encouraging to know that Bharat Natyam and Kathak will now be taught for an undergraduate degree at the London Contemporary Dance School, for the first time in Europe. It is a relief to know that finally some authentic Indian classical dance will be taught here. Otherwise, apart from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan there are hardly any institutions where these art forms are taught at more than a basic level. All this time true admirers of Indian classical dance forms like myself, were being fed with corrupt versions that causes more pain than joy.

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Other efforts are also afoot to promote India's rich cultural and artistic heritage. Today famous Bharat Natyam dancer Malavika Sarrukai is in London doing just that. RA, a British registered charity,formed  in 2000 and supported by Barclays and Asia House are presenting Sarukkai's 'Kasi Yatra: The journey of a courtesan in Varanasi.' The charity, dedicated to the promotion of the subcontinent's unique culture of music, dance and literature through lectures, scholarships, education and artistic performance, aims to make it an annual event. Three very well-known Indian women immersed in the world of the arts decided it was time to make a beginning in London. Lekha Poddar, Gauri Keeling, whose mother, Mrs Charatram was the founder of Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Bansuri Shah got together to begin this ambitious venture. Gauri said, "We wanted to do something interesting in this field in London." And delightfully she informed that the charity will give the young an opportunity to study the arts in India and London.

Basere se dur, it will be a delight to get the taste of real, authentic Indian arts.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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