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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A legend in his lifetime

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A brand new documentary traces the lifetime of dance guru, choreographer and musician Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar, whose pursuit of dance stays pure and unsullied

Whenever you communicate of Professor C.V. Chandrasekhar, Bharatanatyam exponent and guru, music composer who’s adept in each techniques of Carnatic and Hindustani, and a choreographer, it’s troublesome to keep away from the cliché, ‘a legend in his lifetime’. Reminiscences of the maestro in his heyday resurfaced just lately when a movie, Nrithya Gandharva – Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar, His Artwork & Life, premièred on YouTube.

Through the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, college students of Kalakshetra, the guru’s alma mater, would hear of his exploits as a formidable dancer and composer. When he carried out together with his spouse Jaya Chandrasekhar and subsequently additionally with daughters Chitra and Manjari, the coed neighborhood watched in awe. The guru would dance, then additional alongside the programme, take his seat with the orchestra to sing and carry out nattuvangam whereas the daughters danced. And Kalakshetra the following day would smile with tales of how the boy Chandrasekhar, cheerfully belting out kalpanaswaras, had joined Rukmini Devi Arundale’s establishment to be taught music, and the way his dancing abilities had then been honed alongside. Little question his personal attraction in the direction of dance was a driving issue, however maybe his musical prowess additionally drew Rukmini Devi to place into follow her perception that the perfect dancers are those that sing nicely. Among the many celebrated Kalakshetra alumni, Chandrasekhar epitomises this precept that the founder typically reiterated.

Journey throughout the nation

Within the late Nineteen Eighties, as his troupe in Vadodara (the place he was spearheading the work of the dance division on the M.S. College, Baroda) got here of age, he toured the nation with acclaimed productions.

A legend in his lifetime

When Guru Chandrasekhar settled in Chennai in 1992, after an extended sojourn within the northern elements of the nation, having taken early retirement as Head of the College of Performing Arts at Baroda, he began a brand new chapter in his life with the identical power and enthusiasm that had characterised his earlier inventive forays. In his late 50s, an age when many performers think about retiring from the stage, he dove into an inspiring solo profession, displaying a technical brilliance that put youthful dancers to disgrace.

It was presently too that audiences heard one other facet of Chandrasekhar’s story. Typically in the course of the commentary between compositions — a lot of them that includes his personal music and dance creations — he would speak of his days of struggling to be recognised as a soloist. It had not been straightforward to succeed as a male Bharatanatyam dancer. Whereas girls performing solo have been accepted, organisers constantly requested a male dancer to carry out with a feminine duet associate, he mentioned. The implication was that they regarded for the ornamental and entertaining elements of a efficiency slightly than contemplating the talents and depth of every soloist.

Whereas his work has been recognised by honours reminiscent of being named a Fellow of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and receiving the Padma Bhushan and the Kalidas Samman, Guru Chandrasekhar’s life story, regardless of his eminence, shouldn’t be extensively identified. This prompted documentary filmmaker Vinu Vasudevan and Kuchipudi exponent Madhavi Mallampalli to make Nrithya Gandharva. After being stalled by the lockdown, the movie was launched now.

As a tribute to C.V. Chandrasekhar, Nrithya Gandharva covers quite a lot of floor. Scripted and directed by Vasudevan with narration and subtitles by Madhavi, the documentary has been shot in Chennai, Varanasi and Vadodara, the three necessary centres in Chandrasekhar’s life.

Madhavi, a Kuchipudi dancer whose Madhura Kala Niketan has produced the movie, finds the Chandrasekhars “blissfully untouched by the stress and politics of the artwork world the remainder of us are accustomed to.” She says she and Vasudevan “felt this story needed to be instructed, of such individuals having lived lives completely unpolluted by industrial or skilled acquire… and nonetheless dwelling, fortunately and within the second.”

The filmmakers would have performed nicely with out the the historical past of Bharatanatyam, a far too informal and sweeping point out at that. The movie consists of dramatised episodes of Chandrasekhar’s life. To these accustomed to the personalities represented, this isn’t at all times palatable, however Vasudevan says he wished to make use of the docu-fiction technique. “I do know, individuals [are] conscious this isn’t actual Chandrasekhar, however I’m certain they will join it with him. This additionally occurred within the case of singing. [The actor] is sir’s grandson, Viraj Rajendra Kumar. He’s a music pupil and has some similarities in look.”

Tracing Chandrasekhar’s education and dance coaching in Chennai to his commencement in Botany from Banaras Hindu College (BHU), the movie goes on to inform us that whereas pursuing his doctorate in Botany, he was provided a dance instructor’s job on the Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya. Right here his abilities in instructing and choreography started to sharpen.

We hear the guru recount with a fond snicker, “Meantime, I used to be 27, Jaya got here into my life, after which we obtained married”. Jaya was a lawyer, he a scientist, and each have been achieved dancers and singers. Since accompanying musicians for Bharatanatyam have been exhausting to return by in these days in Varanasi, they sang for one another’s performances, he says.

A number of personalities, largely from the sphere of Bharatanatyam, have been interviewed within the documentary. A noteworthy inclusion is that of Sanskrit scholar Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi, who describes the immense contribution of the Chandrasekhars to the manufacturing of Sanskrit performs at Banaras Hindu College and to creating a sensible utility for the precepts of the Natya Shastra, significantly within the presentation of the poorvaranga, which was roughly a forgotten idea within the Nineteen Seventies.

The maestro pays tribute to the many individuals who groomed him, from Gurus S. Sarada and Sarada Hoffman, who meticulously taught him Bharatanatyam, to the various students and musicians he met whereas working in Varanasi and Vadodara. Of his mentor Rukmini Devi he says, “From inside she was meetha (candy),” and remarks that although she didn’t personally put him by means of his paces, she ignited his ardour for dance and opened his thoughts.

Maybe the best tribute to his mentor is that some 70 years later, that keenness continues to burn shiny.

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