Tag Archives: Manipuri

Parampara Festival: And the Flow Continues

A celebration of legacies – a festival of bhava, rasa, tala, laya – was recently hosted virtually by Sangeet Natak Akademi award recipient Srimati Aloka Kanungo and Eastern Zonal Cultural Center (EZCC), and powered by Kadambini, the popular Oriya magazine.

Parampara unfolded over twelve days like twelve gemstones, each day shining with the lustrous hues of established and promising Indian classical dancers from India and abroad. Guru Aloka Kanungo successfully visualized and conceptualized the festival with five days dedicated to the celebration of Odissi, and seven days of other classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Sattriya, Kathak, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, and Gaudiya Nritya. Each episode was introduced by Baishali Bhuniya. The festival featured EZCC director Gouri Basu, diplomat and dancer Rajashree Chintak Behera, Media personality Sadhna Srivastav, and Dr. Sangita Gosain

The first five days presented a very commendable range of artists of Odissi, from scholars, researchers, to dancers and choreographers from various parts of the globe such as Rohini Dandavate (USA), Supradipta Dutta (USA), Kaustavi Sarkar (USA), Niharika Mohanty (USA), Rajashree Chintak (China), Supriya Nayak (Canada), Maya Devalecheruvu (USA), Maya Lochana, Pompi Mukherjee. Interesting ideas and discussions came up in the Nritya Kovid chapter where senior dancers and researchers, namely Dr. Snehaprava Samantaray, Daksha Mashruwala, Dr. Rohini Dandavate, and Niharika Mohanty, presented their choreographic or research-based works through slides and video snippets. 

Day one of Parampara started with Odissi on June 17th. There was a galaxy of promising dancers of Odissi from all over India who presented their craft quite gracefully. Rudraprasad Swain, Debashis Pattnaik, Arushi Mudgal, Panchanan Bhuniya, Paulami Chakraborty, Rudra Prasad Swain, and Saurav Samanta were among the Odissi dancers in the Parampara series who showed considerable promise. 

The sixth day celebrated Kathak and presented dances by various promising Kathak dancers of the current time namely Indrayanee Mukherjee, Shinjini Kulkarni, Sandip Mallick, Souvik Chakraborty, Paramita Moitra, and Vishal Krishna. Souvik’s elegant presentation of dhamar, Indrayanee’s nuanced ashtapadi and crisp pancham sawari deserve mention. Srimati Uma Dogra’s scintillating choreographic essence was visible clearly in Indrayanee’s presentation. Shinjini was elegant as ever in her poise and dexterity with a dignified presentation of abhinaya. Finally, Sandip’s subtle but chiseled movements left the audience asking for more. 

The seventh episode highlighted Bharatanatyam by dancers from India, and USA. The artists were Sharanya Chandran, Shweta Prachande, Anuradha Vikranth, Himanshu Srivastava, Samrat Dutta, Uttiya Barua, and Piyali Biswas. Technical precision in form and appropriate usage of bhava and rasa in the presentations of Shweta, Himanshu, Sharanya, and Anuradha was mindboggling. Piyali chose an unusual and challenging locale to show the mayura alarippu. Samrat’s dhumavati , and Himanshu’s kaalbhairav stood out for the sheer power of concept, choreography, and execution. 

The eighth segment showcased Manipuri and Sattriya. S. Karuna Devi, Paushaly Chatterjee, Sinam Basu Singh, and Sudip Ghosh presented Manipuri, while Anwesha Mahanta, Naren Baruah, And Seujpriya Borothakur presented beautiful Sattriya dances. 

On day nine, the audience witnessed Kuchipudi and Gaudiya Nritya. Srimayi Vempati, Minu Thakur, Prateeksha Kashi, Gururaju presented scintillating Kuchipudi, while Kaberi Putatunda and Ayan Mukherjee showcased traditional Gaudiya Nritya. Prateeksha kashi and Gururaju were breathtakingly sharp in their performances. 

The tenth saw the two most prominent classical dance forms of Kerala – Kathakali and Mohiniyattam. Priyadarshini Ghosh, Mom Ganguly, Smitha Ranjan, Methil Devika presented Mohiniyattam with utmost precision and nuanced expressions, While Diptangshu Paul and Ramyani Roy brought out the elements of Kathakali nicely in their presentations. Methil Devika’s sarpatatwam took the rasika to an experience of mysticism and Priyadarshini’s lasya aspect was presented beautifully. 

The pandemic has closed some doors but opened many windows into the world of art and culture. The entire event showed how the virtual windows can be used successfully to showcase the brilliance of classical art and rising artists of the various dance forms. Hope this enterprising festival reaches its goal of including more artists and audiences from around the world. 

Hats off to Aloka Kanungo and EZCC for this great enterprising event. Looking forward to more such events in the future.


Nandini Mandal is a Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher, choreographer, Founder & Artistic Director of Nandanik Dance Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the host of the Facebook talkshow, Shetubondhon, and a social activist, cancer survivor, and freelance writer.


 

Ethnic Hostility Simmers In Axone Cookfest

With the world wide furore created by the Black Lives Matter movement and the soul searching about discrimination and xenophobia in countries around the globe, it’s time that Indians look themselves in the mirror and ask an honest question.

How racist are we as a culture?

The answer, conveyed subtly and with empathy in the movie Axone, is extremely. 

However – and there is a however – we’re also open to change, to understanding with exposure, to the fact that the principle that allowed our civilization to survive waves of invasions over the centuries – live and let live-  is  still alive, even if it sometimes appears to be on life support. 

Axone is a gentle satire – funny at times, and at other times, dark and  thoughtful on culture and cultural clashes, on unabashed bigotry towards people from the ‘Northeast of India’ (are they really Indian?) and on the meaning of neighborhood and the importance of acceptance.

It doesn’t try to make grand statements or indulge in preachy messages – it’s a simple, authentic recreation of the ugly reality of discrimination and stereotypes prevalent in Indian culture, and the personal and psychological cost paid by the minorities subjected to them.

The plot revolves around a single day of misadventures, as a group of friends from the northeast of India (Nepalis, Manipuris and Khasis are lumped together here, so much the better to make the movie’s point) try to cook a special, particularly pungent Naga dish called Axone,(pronounced Akhuni) for their friend’s wedding. Their Punjabi landlady is a terror who screams bloody murder whenever this noxious smelling (at least according to her ‘delicate’ Punjabi nostrils) concoction is prepared, and forbids the use of her kitchen.

The friends resort to all sorts of devices to prepare the dish and move it from location to location, revealing in the process how the young Northeasterners deal with daily slights and ethnic insults which are as commonplace as stray dogs on Delhi’s teeming streets.

There are hilarious moments, but also situations which make one angry that their Northeastern origin lets others automatically assume they can be pushed around. 

Sayani Gupta stands out as Upasana, a Nepali girl who forges on with the project even as Chanbi, her Manipuri friend (played by Lin Laishram) loses heart; all the young actors in this movie inhabit their roles as naturally as a second skin.

Director Nicholas Kharkongor handles the casual way Northeastern women experience daily doses of racism and sexism particularly well.  Having grown up on the streets of Delhi, I identified totally with the rage Chanbi experiences when local men talk dirty around her because she is perceived as Northeastern and therefore ‘loose.’

My heart bled for her friend, who was too cowardly to defend her honor against a bunch of goons (why should he have been put in that position in the first place?)

Dolly Ahluwahlia as the aggressive Punjabi landlady brings the same delightful ferocity to her role that we first saw in Vicky Donor, whether she’s berating her no-good son-in-law (played by Vinay Pathak), or rebuking the girls for trying to use her kitchen or, eventually joining forces with her grandson to help the girls finish the cumbersome process of cooking.  

In the end, the simplicity and  humor with which the movie tackles a disturbing everyday reality makes it an experience that stays with the viewer. 

Jyoti Minocha is an DC-based educator and writer who holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins, and is working on a novel about the Partition.

Edited by Contributing Editor Meera Kymal