|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, January 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
her strongest point
Rollicking in rustic
week of duplications
her strongest point
The transformation from a shy modest individual to a bubbly Radha or a cheeky Krishna is simply amazing. As you look at Anuradha performing the age-old roles of Krishna and Radha with fluid movements and apt hand mudras, which are the integral parts of the Jaipur gharana of Kathak, it is not hard to understand how she has got awards like "Nrityashree" and "Urvashi" at such a young age.
A good dancer is not just what Anuradha stands for. It’s her effort to weave a web of love and respect for art form and promote the country’s culture in the distant land of Uzbekistan for nearly two years under a programme sponsored by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations makes her praiseworthy.
Anuradha Arora was introduced to the world of classical dance by danseuse Shobha Koser of the Jaipur gharana. Now after eight years of regular practice, Anuradha has mastered the intricacies of this particular dance form, including the presentation of pure nritya items like tukra, tora, param, chakradar and paran.
"Learning Kathak was purely accidental for me," says Anuradha recalling her early days when she had joined the Pracheen Kala Kendra in Chandigarh as a computer operator. Motivated by the environment, she soon started learning Kathak after office hours. And before long her potential was noticed and she was taken under the wing of the dance couple M.L. Koser and Shobha Koser.
Now the time has come for her to give back whatever she learnt from her illustrious gurus. And she is doing it by teaching Kathak to a group of 50 students in Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
"I want to create India in the distant lands of Uzbekistan," says Anuradha, sharing her experience with the foreign students. "Uzbek people are impressed by India’s culture, food and specially cinema and many of my students are familiar with the name Raj Kapoor and his movies," says Anuradha.
How does she cope up with the students who speak an entirely different language? " "Kathak is an easily understandable dance with hand mudras. It is common with their own traditional dance forms, specially a dance form propagated by legendary dancer Tamara Khanam," says Anuradha. "Besides, I have also learnt to speak passable Russian," she adds.
But it is entirely a different story when it comes to absorb them in the script, says Anuradha. It was hard for her to convince her students that Rama was a fair god even though he doubted Sita’s purity and subjected her to a ‘agni pariksha’ while enacting "Sita Haran" and "Agni Diksha". "So my teaching is not just limited to Kathak only. I have to teach them epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the background of our traditions and culture", she says.
Anuradha loves portraying the mythological female figures like Sita, Draupadi, Meera and of course Radha. "Abhinaya is my strongest point and I love to express the emotions those women felt," says Anuradha, and you have to believe it as you look into her large expressive eyes. Anuradha has also learnt Manipuri dance and for the past two years she has been composing and choreographing her own ballets.
Now that her tenure with the ICCR is about to expire soon, how does she see herself in the near future?
"I would continue to be
associated with Pracheen Kala Kendra and teach the youngsters
here," says Anuradha." I do not belong to an artistic family
and would not be here in this position had it not been for the
kendra," says Anuradha. "So I would like to guide the
youngsters fulfill their dreams to make it big in life but do not know
where to start," she adds.
in rustic rhythms
Passing on the art of bhangra vigour to raw enthusiasts may sound easy on the face of it, but it requires a lot of zeal and passion. Sustaining dedication to this Punjabi folk art form can become difficult, particularly as it does not bring much of monetary returns.
It is the satisfaction he gets that keeps Sunny Sandhu going. He runs a 15-day course in bhangra and has coached around 50 persons since 1991. He has not received any formal training himself, but that has not hampered him from performing this lively dance with infectious rhythm, which he has been doing regularly since his college days. He has also participated in Jhankar Utsav and various youth festivals.
Theatre is another art form he is deeply committed to. He has about 20 plays to his credit, with "Chandni Chowk Se Sirhind Tak", "Singh Soorme", "Court Martial" and "Dulha Bhatti" having been highly appreciated by viewers. Aiming to be known as an all-rounder, he has acted in 10 Punjabi films as character artiste, notable among these being "Bagawat" and "Tabahi", in addition to a few telefilms.
Sunny is in love with his roots and has no plans to move out of Punjab. Though he has toured Mumbai and Kolkata, besides a number of European countries and the USA, in connection with shows and shooting, it is here that his sense of belonging stays firmly put.
Tremendous family support has gone a long way in making him persist and go further on the path which does not have many takers. His exhaustion vanishes when he returns home to the warmth and affection of his children. New acting offers every now and then have maintained the artistic urge in him.
Sunny agrees that artistes do not
last long on popularity charts. It is common among them to lose
interest or to burn out fast. Working as senior assistant with Markfed
in the procurement section, he devotes most of his spare time to his
two driving forces. It is only during the period of wheat harvest that
he has to curtail the two driving forces in his life.
Even with Afghanistan stabilising itself there has been a veritable procession of VVIPs strutting the screen. First SAARC, where everyone wanted to do coverage. After Rajdeep Sardesai’s indepth panel discussion with three top journalists from Nepal, India and Pakistan — and they were a very authoritative and balanced lot even when speaking from a national perspective — up bobs Barkha Dutt (seen in Kashmir moments ago) to slip in a mini-panel discussion on SAARC, and with much the same set of questions as Sardesai with two comparative light-weight journalists from India and Pakistan which broke up the compactness of her programme. "Reality Bites", which thrives on unusual single-subject reportage such as All Jazeera, which she did exclusively, but her sortie to New York after September 11, when her colleagues had already been there and one very trifling discussion with three cooks from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who could not express themselves, fell a bit flat and was another example of unnecessary duplication and "me-too" ambitions. As it is, Barkha does two weekend lengthy programmes, and "Reality Bites" often has to take refuge in panel discussions on the same subjects and with the same format as those on Star News and other channels. This over-enthusiasm to be in on everything (another example being the unspectacular talking heads with Sharon) which had been done in other news contexts, makes me repeat what a viewer who also likes Barkha’s verve remarked to me in exasperation after this surfeit of Barkha here, there and everywhere: "Does Barkha realise that viewers can have too much of her and that they are now suffering from Barkha Fatigue?". A point which I offer to NDTV.
The VVIPs spilled into the south to begin with, Tony Blair and Pramod Mahajan admiring each other’s wit and wisdom. Fascinating to watch and hear Blair’s tight-rope act from India to Pakistan and then facing the flak at home. And equally fascinating to watch and hear our very own Atalji, who is clearly more at home talking foreign policy to his constituents in Lucknow en route Nepal, pregnant pauses and all, rather than after dinner diplomatic speeches in the corridors of power.
For those of us who have to channel hop, one finds that Zee is so bad at self-projection that many might have missed several good discussions and mini-items in its news which were not, as in Aaj Tak, interrupted by endless ads which made one miss the continuity in its new coverage. Even Ye Olde DD got into the act and its Patna Correspondent, Sudhanshu Ranjan did a good solid job of covering SAARC. Readers will perhaps recall that some time ago DD banished Ranjan’s face off the screen, and almost Ranjan himself, because some ambitious newscasters felt their faces were more important. But Ranjan is a lawyer, fought back, and we not only saw his face, but also his smart coat and tie in Kathmandu and more power to his news reporting.
But while regional news reporters stick to their beats, one is sick and tired of the same generals, defence analysts, Editors, university professors, retired diplomats and the same old party spokespersons whose faces and views move daily from channel to channel, discussing Afghanistan, UP elections, et al with boring monotony. All cannot be as dexterous as Karan Thapar who does his "Face to Face" on the same night and time as his chat show on Doordarshan. Two Karan Thapars holding forth at the same time on two channels is a bit much and surely one of the channels can change its timings? This is an extreme form of duplication which brings me on to the point that while most channels are only too happy to nip over to Islamabad to get the Pakistani point of view, why don’t the same channels nip over to Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other centres to get views on Pakistani, military and diplomatic matters, big economic issues? In fact, except for Prannoy Roy’s occasional sorties outside Delhi with the BBC’s "Question Time India", the satellite news channels are getting as Delhi-based and Delhi-biased, particularly in their experts and panel discussions as the original Grand Moghul, Doordarshan. Very boring for viewers.
Some time ago, I had commented on Smita Prokash’s interview with a literary personality, Sashi Tharoor, where I felt she was a little out of her depth. Which is why I watched with pleasure last week her interview with Barry O-Brien. Barry comes from a family of quizzers and Smita could well have got bogged down in that topic. Instead, she chose the occasion to highlight the problems, political status, achievements and way of life of the Anglo-Indian community, a minority which is grossly neglected on not only TV, but also the press and radio. It was an indepth interview, on which Smita had done her homework, her questions were spontaneous inbetween, and not all rehearsed or written down. Barry, in turn, was modest, frank, informative and spoke more about his community in detail than about himself or his family. I only felt sorry that both forgot to mention the most moving film I have seen on the Anglo-Indian community, and that is Aparna Sen’s "36 Chowringhee Lane", one of the finest performances by Jennifer Kendall. Clips from it would have made the programme even more visually attractive.